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Understanding the Increased Time to the Baccalaureate Degree

Author

Listed:
  • John Bound

    (University of Michigan)

  • Sarah Turner

    (Stanford University)

Abstract

Time until completion of a baccalaureate degree has increased markedly over the last three decades. Between 1972 and 1992, average time to degree increased by more than one-quarter of a year, the completion rate among college attendees dropped from 51.1% to 45.3% and, among those receiving degrees, the percent receiving a degree within 4 years dropped from 56.8% to 43.6%. We assess the extent to which these shifts result from changes in the preparation of college students over time, reductions in collegiate resources, erosion in family circumstances, or other broad macro-economic adjustments. We produce evidence that increased stratification in U.S. higher education and reductions in collegiate resources outside the top-tier of institutions are a primary component of the explanation for the observed increases in time to degree. The shift toward initial enrollment at two-year institutions rather than four-year institutions accounts for some of the decline in completion rates. In addition, we find evidence of increased hours of employment among students, which is consistent with students working more to meet rising college costs.

Suggested Citation

  • John Bound & Sarah Turner, 2007. "Understanding the Increased Time to the Baccalaureate Degree," Discussion Papers 06-043, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:06-043
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    File URL: http://www-siepr.stanford.edu/repec/sip/06-043.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. John Bound & Brad Hershbein & Bridget Terry Long, 2009. "Playing the Admissions Game: Student Reactions to Increasing College Competition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 119-146, Fall.
    2. Pietro Garibaldi & Francesco Giavazzi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2012. "College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 699-711, August.
    3. Nefstead, Ward E. & Gillard, Steve A., 2008. "A Model for Estimating Time to Degree in Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources: A University of Minnesota Case Study," 2008 Annual Meeting, July 27-29, 2008, Orlando, Florida 6442, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    4. Gunnes, Trude & Kirkebøen, Lars J. & Rønning, Marte, 2013. "Financial incentives and study duration in higher education," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 1-11.
    5. Alfonso Flores-Lagunes & Audrey Light, 2010. "Interpreting Degree Effects in the Returns to Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(2).
    6. William R. Johnson & Sarah Turner, 2009. "Faculty without Students: Resource Allocation in Higher Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(2), pages 169-189, Spring.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    college degree; bachelors degree;

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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