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Business Cycles and Investment in Human Capital: International Evidence on Higher Education

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  • Plutarchos Sakellaris

    (Department of Economics, University of Maryland and Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System)

  • Antonio Spilimbergo

    (International Monetary Fund)

Abstract

We study the effect of economic fluctuations on investment in higher education for a wide range of countries. Our main focus is foreign students who come to the United States to attend university. There is a strong relation between enrollment and the business cycle in the sending country. The cyclical pattern of enrollment is sharply different for two groups of countries. For OECD countries enrollment is countercyclical, whereas for non-OECD countries it is procyclical. At business cycle frequencies, opportunity cost plays a dominant role in explaining enrollment from OECD countries, whereas ability to pay and credit constraints seem more prevalent at non-OECD countries. The results are confirmed using data on domestic enrollment from national sources.

Suggested Citation

  • Plutarchos Sakellaris & Antonio Spilimbergo, 1999. "Business Cycles and Investment in Human Capital: International Evidence on Higher Education," Electronic Working Papers 99-009, University of Maryland, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:umd:umdeco:99-009
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    Cited by:

    1. David N. DeJong & Beth F. Ingram, 2001. "The Cyclical Behavior of Skill Acquisition," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 4(3), pages 536-561, July.
    2. Fabio Méndez & Facundo Sepúlveda, 2012. "The Cyclicality of Skill Acquisition: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 128-152, July.
    3. Gilpin, Gregory A. & Saunders, Joseph & Stoddard, Christiana, 2015. "Why has for-profit colleges’ share of higher education expanded so rapidly? Estimating the responsiveness to labor market changes," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 53-63.
    4. Francois, P. & Lloyd-Ellis, H., 2001. "Animal Spirits Meets Creative Destruction," Other publications TiSEM d583b352-a7f4-434f-8731-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    5. Maskus, Keith & Mobarak, Ahmed Mushfiq & Stuen, Eric T., 2010. "Skilled Immigration and Innovation: Evidence from Enrollment Fluctuations in U.S. Doctoral Programs," CEPR Discussion Papers 7709, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Alessandrini, Diana & Kosempel, Stephen & Stengos, Thanasis, 2015. "The business cycle human capital accumulation nexus and its effect on hours worked volatility," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 356-377.
    7. Malik Fahim Bashir & Changsheng Xu & Khalid Zaman & Ghulam Akhmat, 2014. "Key Factors Determining the Rationale for Brain Drain: An Irony Never Recovered," International Journal of Economics and Empirical Research (IJEER), The Economics and Social Development Organization (TESDO), vol. 2(8), pages 308-320, August.
    8. Jing Dang & Max Gillman & Michal Kejak, 2011. "Real Business Cycles with a Human Capital Investment Sector and Endogenous Growth: Persistence, Volatility and Labor Puzzles," CERS-IE WORKING PAPERS 1128, Institute of Economics, Centre for Economic and Regional Studies.
    9. Keith Blackburn & Dimitrios Varvarigos, 2006. "Human Capital Accumulation in a Stochastic Environment: Some New Results on the Relationship Between Growth and Volatility," Economics Discussion Paper Series 0618, Economics, The University of Manchester.
    10. Di Liberto, Adriana, 2008. "Education and Italian regional development," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 94-107, February.
    11. Ran Abramitzky & Victor Lavy, 2014. "How Responsive Is Investment in Schooling to Changes in Redistributive Policies and in Returns?," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(4), pages 1241-1272, July.
    12. Ernest Boffy-Ramirez, 2017. "The heterogeneous impacts of business cycles on educational attainment," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(6), pages 554-561, November.
    13. Bonacini, Luca, 2020. "Unequal effects of the economic cycle on human capital investment. Evidence from Italian panel data," GLO Discussion Paper Series 733, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    14. A. Di Liberto, 2004. "Convergence clubs and the role of human capital in Spanish Regional Growth," Working Paper CRENoS 200418, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    15. Leszek Wincenciak, 2019. "Evolution of private returns to schooling over the business cycle in a transition economy," Working Papers 2019-19, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    16. Bradley, Elizabeth S., 2012. "The Effect of the Business Cycle on Freshman Major Choice," MPRA Paper 42412, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. John P. Conley & Ali Sina Onder & Benno Torgler, 2012. "Are all High-Skilled Cohorts Created Equal? Unemployment, Gender, and Research Productivity," CREMA Working Paper Series 2012-15, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    18. Chellaraj, Gnanaraj & Maskus, Keith E. & Mattoo, Aaditya, 2005. "The contribution of skilled immigration and international graduate students to U.S. innovation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3588, The World Bank.
    19. Jones, Larry E. & Manuelli, Rodolfo E., 2005. "Neoclassical Models of Endogenous Growth: The Effects of Fiscal Policy, Innovation and Fluctuations," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 1, pages 13-65, Elsevier.
    20. Dimitrios Varvarigos, 2013. "Endogenous Cycles and Human Capital," Discussion Papers in Economics 13/18, Division of Economics, School of Business, University of Leicester.
    21. Bedard, Kelly & Herman, Douglas A., 2008. "Who goes to graduate/professional school? The importance of economic fluctuations, undergraduate field, and ability," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 197-210, April.
    22. John P. Conley & Ali Sina Önder & Benno Torgler, 2012. "Are all High-Skilled Cohorts Created Equal? Unemployment, Gender, and Research Productivity," Working Papers 2012.86, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    23. Blom, Erica & Cadena, Brian C. & Keys, Benjamin J., 2015. "Investment over the Business Cycle: Insights from College Major Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 9167, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    24. Keith Blackburn & Dimitrios Varvarigos, 2008. "Human capital accumulation and output growth in a stochastic environment," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 36(3), pages 435-452, September.
    25. Diana Alessandrini, 2014. "On the Cyclicality of Schooling Decisions: Evidence from Canadian Data," Working Paper series 16_14, Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Business Cycles; Education; OECD; Credit Constraints; Opportunity Cost;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • F2 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business

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