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Increasing Returns to Education and Progress towards a College Degree

  • Leslie S Stratton

    ()

    (Department of Economics, VCU School of Business)

  • James N. Wetzel

    ()

    (Department of Economics, VCU School of Business)

Returns to college have increased, but graduation rates have changed relatively little. Modifying a human capital model of college enrollment to endogenize time-to-graduation, we predict that higher returns to education will both speed graduation and increase enrollment. Some of those new entrants may, however, take longer to graduate. Using the 1989 and 1995 Beginning Postsecondary Studies, we employ a multinomial logit to model the association between individual and family characteristics, and five-year college outcomes: graduation, continued enrollment, and non-enrollment. Between cohort differences arise either because the characteristics of those entering college are different or because the relations between characteristics and outcomes have changed. We utilize a Oaxaca-Blinder style decomposition to distinguish between these two alternatives, attributing differences in characteristics to newly attracted students and differences in the relations between characteristics and outcomes to historically attracted students behaving differently. It is changes in behavior that explain the increased progress we observe.

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File URL: http://www.people.vcu.edu/~okorenok/StrattonWetzelIncreasingReturnsAugust2008.pdf
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Paper provided by VCU School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0805.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:vcu:wpaper:0805
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Web page: http://www.business.vcu.edu/economics

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  1. Altonji, Joseph G, 1993. "The Demand for and Return to Education When Education Outcomes Are Uncertain," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages 48-83, January.
  2. Christopher Dougherty, 2005. "Why Are the Returns to Schooling Higher for Women than for Men?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 969-988.
  3. Lisa Barrow & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2005. "Do Returns to Schooling Differ by Race and Ethnicity?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 83-87, May.
  4. Susan M. Dynarski, 2003. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(1), pages 279-288, March.
  5. Manski, Charles F., 1989. "Schooling as experimentation: a reappraisal of the postsecondary dropout phenomenon," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 305-312, August.
  6. Stratton, Leslie S. & O'Toole, Dennis M. & Wetzel, James N., 2006. "Are the Factors Affecting Dropout Behavior Related to Initial Enrollment Intensity for College Undergraduates?," IZA Discussion Papers 1951, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Jaeger, David A & Page, Marianne E, 1996. "Degrees Matter: New Evidence on Sheepskin Effects in the Returns to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 733-40, November.
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