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Estimating the Return to College Selectivity over the Career Using Administrative Earning Data

  • Stacy Dale

    (Mathematica Policy Research)

  • Alan B. Krueger

    (Princeton University)

We estimate the monetary return to attending a highly selective college using the College and Beyond (C&B) Survey linked to Detailed Earnings Records from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This paper extends earlier work by Dale and Krueger (2002) that examined the relationship between the college that students attended in 1976 and the earnings they self-reported reported in 1995 on the C&B follow-up survey. In this analysis, we use administrative earnings data to estimate the return to various measures of college selectivity for a more recent cohort of students: those who entered college in 1989. We also estimate the return to college selectivity for the 1976 cohort of students, but over a longer time horizon (from 1983 through 2007) using administrative data. We find that the return to college selectivity is sizeable for both cohorts in regression models that control for variables commonly observed by researchers, such as student high school GPA and SAT scores. However, when we adjust for unobserved student ability by controlling for the average SAT score of the colleges that students applied to, our estimates of the return to college selectivity fall substantially and are generally indistinguishable from zero. There were notable exceptions for certain subgroups. For black and Hispanic students and for students who come from less-educated families (in terms of their parents’ education), the estimates of the return to college selectivity remain large, even in models that adjust for unobserved student characteristics.

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File URL: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/dsp01gf06g265z
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Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section. in its series Working Papers with number 1297.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Handle: RePEc:pri:indrel:dsp01gf06g265z
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  1. Monks, James, 2000. "The returns to individual and college characteristics: Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 279-289, June.
  2. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1998. "Empirical Strategies in Labor Economics," Working papers 98-7, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Mark Hoekstra, 2009. "The Effect of Attending the Flagship State University on Earnings: A Discontinuity-Based Approach," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(4), pages 717-724, November.
  4. Long, Mark C., 2008. "College quality and early adult outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 588-602, October.
  5. Roland G. Fryer & Michael Greenstone, 2007. "The Causes and Consequences of Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities," NBER Working Papers 13036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1995. "College Selectivity and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 289-308, April.
  7. Behrman, Jere R & Rosenzweig, Mark R & Taubman, Paul, 1996. "College Choice and Wages: Estimates Using Data on Female Twins," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 672-85, November.
  8. Stacy Berg Dale & Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Estimating The Payoff To Attending A More Selective College: An Application Of Selection On Observables And Unobservables," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1491-1527, November.
  9. Roland G. Fryer & Michael Greenstone, 2010. "The Changing Consequences of Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 116-48, January.
  10. Lena Lindahl & Hakan Regnér, 2005. "College Choice and Subsequent Earnings: Results Using Swedish Sibling Data," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 107(3), pages 437-457, 09.
  11. Black, Dan A. & Smith, J.A.Jeffrey A., 2004. "How robust is the evidence on the effects of college quality? Evidence from matching," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 99-124.
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