IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Public Policy and College Attainment


  • Daniele Coen-Pirani

    (University of Pittsburgh)

  • Rui Castro

    (Université de Montréal)


We investigate the role of direct public support for education in explaining the post-WWII evolution of college attainment in the U.S. College attainment has surged from the end of WWII until the early 1970s, then declined for about a decade and has been slowly recovering towards the level of the early 1970s. Such dynamics are not easily understood with changes in skill-biased technology. Instead, the extent of public support for education paralleled the dynamics of college attainment, suggesting a potentially important role for public policy. We propose a model where the government controls the price, the quality, and the quantity of education in the public college system. In our model, agents of differing abilities decide whether to drop out or complete high-school, and whether to continue onto college. In the latter case, agents can choose to follow a two-year or a four-year program, in either the private or the public system. Our rich characterization of schooling choices is designed to help us identify the role of public policy in driving educational outcomes. Our model produces implications for college attainment in different programs and different institutions, and for the returns to schooling conditional on those choices. We use those implications to evaluate the hypothesis that direct public support for education has been a main driving force behind college attainment.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniele Coen-Pirani & Rui Castro, 2011. "Public Policy and College Attainment," 2011 Meeting Papers 1350, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:1350

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. John Bailey Jones & Fang (Annie) Yang, 2011. "Skill-Biased Technical Change and the Cost of Higher Education: An Exploratory Model," Discussion Papers 11-02, University at Albany, SUNY, Department of Economics.
    2. John Bailey Jones & Fang Yang, 2016. "Skill-Biased Technical Change and the Cost of Higher Education," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 621-662.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:red:sed011:1350. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christian Zimmermann). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.