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Jel Classification:I23 

Working Paper
State disinvestment in higher education: the impact on public research universities' patent applications
While state appropriations are the largest revenue source of the U.S. public university systems, they have declined significantly over the past several decades. Surprisingly, there is little empirical work on the effect of state appropriation cuts on the research productivity of public universities. Helping fill that gap, this paper is the first to examine the role that state appropriations play in public universities? patent production. The results suggest that state appropriation cuts have a negative impact on the number of approved patent applications from public research universities. Lower state appropriations are shown to lead to a reduction in research expenditures, especially wages and salaries paid to research staff.
DATE: 2018-07-01

Journal Article
The Rise and Fall of College Tuition Inflation
The cost of college tuition increased rapidly from 1980 to 2004 at a rate of about 7 percent per year, significantly outpacing the overall inflation rate. Since 2005, college tuition inflation has slowed markedly and has averaged closer to 2 percent per year for the last few years. Understanding what drives tuition inflation is important for predicting future tuition as well as personal income mobility. However, untangling the various supply and demand factors influencing college tuition can be challenging. {{p}} Brent Bundick and Emily Pollard document changes in college tuition inflation over time and attempt to explain the long rise and subsequent fall in college tuition inflation. They find that supply factors such as wages in the education sector and state appropriations to higher education both play important roles in explaining changes in college tuition inflation. In contrast, they find little evidence that demand factors such as changes in the availability of student loans have a significant effect on college tuition.
AUTHORS: Bundick, Brent; Pollard, Emily
DATE: 2019-01

Working Paper
Parenthood and productivity of highly skilled labor: evidence from the groves of academe
We examine the effect of pregnancy and parenthood on the research productivity of academic economists. Combining the survey responses of nearly 10,000 economists with their publication records as documented in their RePEc accounts, we do not find that motherhood is associated with low research productivity. Nor do we find a statistically significant unconditional effect of a first child on research productivity. Conditional difference-in-differences estimates, however, suggest that the effect of parenthood on research productivity is negative for unmarried women and positive for untenured men. Moreover, becoming a mother before 30 years of age appears to have a detrimental effect on research productivity.
AUTHORS: Krapf, Matthias; Ursprung, Heinrich W.; Zimmermann, Christian
DATE: 2014-01-11

Journal Article
Explaining Black-White Differences in College Outcomes at Missouri Public Universities
Conditional on enrollment at a four-year public university, African American students are less likely to graduate and less likely to graduate with a STEM degree than White students. This article reports on evidence from Missouri showing that these outcome differences in college can be explained entirely by differences in students? academic preparation prior to college enrollment. While this result should not be taken to imply that college-level interventions cannot help to reduce observed college success gaps by race, it does point toward pre-college interventions as being better targeted at their underlying source.
AUTHORS: Koedel , Cory
DATE: 2017

Working Paper
Recent Flattening in the Higher Education Wage Premium: Polarization, Skill Downgrading, or Both?
Wage gaps between workers with a college or graduate degree and those with only a high school degree rose rapidly in the United States during the 1980s. Since then, the rate of growth in these wage gaps has progressively slowed, and though the gaps remain large, they were essentially unchanged between 2010 and 2015. I assess this flattening over time in higher education wage premiums with reference to two related explanations for changing U.S. employment patterns: (i) a shift away from middle-skilled occupations driven largely by technological change (?polarization?); and (ii) a general weakening in the demand for advanced cognitive skills (?skill downgrading?). Analyses of wage and employment data from the U.S. Current Population Survey suggest that both factors have contributed to the flattening of higher education wage premiums.
AUTHORS: Valletta, Robert G.
DATE: 2016-08-17

Working Paper
An Empirical Analysis of Racial Segregation in Higher Education
This descriptive paper documents how segregation between blacks and whites across colleges in the United States has evolved since the 1960s. It also explores potential channels through which changes are occurring, and it uses recent data to study the issue of segregation within colleges. The main findings are as follows: (1) White exposure to blacks has been rising since the 1960s, whereas black exposure to whites increased sharply in the late 1960s and early 1970s and has fluctuated since then. Meanwhile, black-white dissimilarity and the Theil index fell sharply in the late 1960s and early 1970s and have fallen more gradually since. (2) There has been regional convergence, although colleges in the South remain more segregated than those in any other region when measured by dissimilarity, by the Theil index, or by black exposure to whites. (3) A major channel for the decline in segregation is the declining share of blacks attending historically black colleges and universities. (4) Although there is segregation within universities, most segregation across major university cells occurs across universities. )
AUTHORS: Hinrichs, Peter
DATE: 2014-12-08

Journal Article
Understanding the Evolution of Student Loan Balances and Repayment Behavior: Do Institution Type and Degree Matter?
Student loan balances and delinquency rates have soared to unprecedented levels in recent years, forming what many commentators have termed a “student loan bubble” and creating a major public policy issue. Given the importance of student loans for human capital formation and economic growth, understanding student loans and repayment behavior is essential from a policy perspective. Yet research in this area has been limited. The authors seek to fill the gap by examining student loan performance over time by institution type and degree program. Using detailed data collected as part of RAND’s American Life Panel survey, they find that, relative to the preceding two decades, the 2000-10 period was characterized by 1) large increases in student loan balances at college exit and 2) deterioration in loan performance among students seeking associate’s degrees, undergraduate certificates, master’s degrees, and professional degrees at private institutions, compared with trends seen among students seeking corresponding degrees at public institutions. The declines in repayment behavior were by far most prominent for associate’s degrees and undergraduate certificates, and were statistically and economically different from the changes observed with other degrees. While deterioration was also seen with public associate’s degree programs, the deterioration was more prominent in such programs in private institutions. The results suggest that the worsening of loan performance at private institutions in the past decade is to a significant extent attributable to student loans extended for study at for-profit institutions.
AUTHORS: Brown, Meta; Zafar, Basit; Van der Klaauw, Wilbert; Chakrabarti, Rajashri
DATE: 2019-12

Preferences and biases in educational choices and labor market expectations: shrinking the black box of gender
Standard observed characteristics explain only part of the differences between men and women in education choices and labor market trajectories. Using an experiment to derive students' levels of overconfidence, and preferences for competitiveness and risk, this paper investigates whether these behavioral biases and preferences explain gender differences in college major choices and expected future earnings. In a sample of high-ability undergraduates, we find that competitiveness and overconfidence, but not risk aversion, are systematically related with expectations about future earnings: Individuals who are overconfident and overly competitive have significantly higher earnings expectations. Moreover, gender differences in overconfidence and competitiveness explain about 18 percent of the gender gap in earnings expectations. These experimental measures explain as much of the gender gap in earnings expectations as a rich set of control variables, including test scores and family background, and they are poorly proxied by these same control variables, underscoring that they represent independent variation. While expected earnings are related to college major choices, the experimental measures are not related with college major choice.
AUTHORS: Wiswall, Matthew; Reuben, Ernesto; Zafar, Basit
DATE: 2013-08-01

Human capital investments and expectations about career and family
This paper studies how individuals believe human capital investments will affect their future career and family life. We conducted a survey of high-ability currently enrolled college students and elicited beliefs about how their choice of college major, and whether to complete their degree at all, would affect a wide array of future events, including future earnings, employment, marriage prospects, potential spousal characteristics, and fertility. We find that students perceive large ?returns" to human capital not only in their own future earnings, but also in a number of other dimensions (such as future labor supply and potential spouse?s earnings). In a recent follow-up survey conducted six years after the initial data collection, we find a close connection between the expectations and current realizations. Finally, we show that both the career and family expectations help explain human capital choices.
AUTHORS: Zafar, Basit; Wiswall, Matthew
DATE: 2016-08-01

University choice: the role of expected earnings, non-pecuniary outcomes, and financial constraints
We investigate the determinants of students? university choice, with a focus on expected monetary returns, non-pecuniary factors enjoyed at school, and financial constraints, in the Pakistani context. To mitigate the identification problem concerning the separation of preferences, expectations, and markets constraints, we combine rich data on individual-specific subjective expectations about labor market and non-pecuniary outcomes, with direct measures of financial constraints and students? stated school choice both with and without financial constraints. Estimates from a life-cycle model show that future earnings play a small (but statistically significant) role. However, non-pecuniary features, such as a school?s ideology, are major determinants. Data on students? choices without financial constraints allow for the out-of-sample validation of the model, which shows a strikingly good fit. Our results demonstrate that 37 percent of students are financially constrained in their choice of university, and that implementing policies relaxing financial constraints would increase students? average lifetime subjective expected utility by 21 percent. From a methodological standpoint, we find that ignoring non-pecuniary factors, uncertainty related to employment and drop-out, or direct measures of financial constraints yields biased estimates?a result that underscores the importance of having data on these elements for understanding university choice in any context.
AUTHORS: Delavande, Adeline; Zafar, Basit
DATE: 2014-08-01


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