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Understanding the Income Gradient in College Attendance in Mexico: The Role of Heterogeneity in Expected Returns to College

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  • Katja Kaufmann

    (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research (IGIER))

Abstract

This paper studies the determinants of college attendance in Mexico. I use subjective quantitative expectations of future earnings to analyze both causes and implications of the steep income gradient in higher-education enrollment. I find that poor individuals require significantly higher expected returns to be induced to attend college. I then test predictions of a simple model of college attendance choice in the presence of credit constraints, using parental income and wealth as a proxy for the household's (unobserved) interest rate. I find that poor individuals with high expected returns are particularly responsive to changes in direct costs such as tuition, which is consistent with credit constraints playing an important role. To evaluate potential welfare implications of introducing a means-tested student loan program, I apply the Local Instrumental Variables approach of Heckman and Vytlacil to my model. I find that a sizeable fraction of poor individuals would change their decision in response to a reduction in interest rate, and that individuals at the margin have higher expected returns than the individuals already attending college. This suggests that policies such as government student loan programs could lead to large welfare gains.

Suggested Citation

  • Katja Kaufmann, 2008. "Understanding the Income Gradient in College Attendance in Mexico: The Role of Heterogeneity in Expected Returns to College," Discussion Papers 07-040, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:07-040
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Filippin, Antonio & Paccagnella, Marco, 2012. "Family background, self-confidence and economic outcomes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 824-834.
    2. Arcidiacono, Peter & Hotz, V. Joseph & Kang, Songman, 2012. "Modeling college major choices using elicited measures of expectations and counterfactuals," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 166(1), pages 3-16.
    3. Delavande, Adeline & Giné, Xavier & McKenzie, David, 2011. "Measuring subjective expectations in developing countries: A critical review and new evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 151-163, March.
    4. Checchi, Daniele & Fiorio, Carlo V. & Leonardi, Marco, 2014. "Parents' risk aversion and children's educational attainment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 164-175.
    5. Paul Frijters & Luo Chuliang & Xin Meng, 2012. "Child Education and the Family Income Gradient in China," Discussion Papers Series 470, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
    6. Sequeira, Sandra & Spinnewijn, Johannes & Xu, Guo, 2016. "Rewarding schooling success and perceived returns to education: Evidence from India," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 131(PA), pages 373-392.
    7. Delavande, Adeline & Zafar, Basit, 2014. "University choice: the role of expected earnings, non-pecuniary outcomes and financial constraints," ISER Working Paper Series 2014-38, Institute for Social and Economic Research.
    8. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2015. "Determinants of College Major Choice: Identification using an Information Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 82(2), pages 791-824.
    9. Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2013. "Information and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Cellular Phone Experiment," NBER Working Papers 19113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Matthew Wiswall & Basit Zafar, 2011. "Belief updating among college students: evidence from experimental variation in information," Staff Reports 516, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational choice; Credit Constraints; Subjective Expectations; Marginal Returns to Schooling; Local Instrumental Variables Approach; Mexico;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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