The Impact of Chicago's Small High School Initiative
This project examines the effects of the introduction of new small high schools on student performance in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district. Specifically, we investigate whether students attending small high schools have better graduation/enrollment rates and achievement than similar students who attend regular CPS high schools. We show that students who choose to attend a small school are more disadvantaged on average, including having prior test scores that are about 0.2 standard deviations lower than their elementary school classmates. To address the selection problem, we use an ...
Information heterogeneity and intended college enrollment
Despite a robust college premium, college attendance rates in the United States have remained stagnant and exhibit a substantial socioeconomic gradient. We focus on information gaps? specifically, incomplete information about college benefits and costs?as a potential explanation for these patterns. In a nationally representative survey of U.S. household heads, we show that perceptions of college costs and benefits are severely and systematically biased: 74 percent of our respondents underestimate the true benefits of college (average earnings of a college graduate relative to a non-college ...
Affirmative Action and Racial Segregation
Prior research suggests that statewide affirmative action bans reduce minority enrollment at selective colleges while leaving overall minority college enrollment unchanged. However, the effect of these bans on across-college racial segregation has not yet been estimated. This effect is theoretically ambiguous due to a U-shaped relationship across colleges between minority enrollment and college selectivity. This paper uses variation in the timing of affirmative action bans across states to estimate their effects on racial segregation as measured by standard exposure and dissimilarity indexes, ...
The College Wealth Divide: Education and Inequality in America, 1956-2016
Using new long-run microdata, this article studies wealth and income trends of households with a college degree (college households) and without a college degree (noncollege households) in the United States since 1956. We document the emergence of a substantial college wealth premium since the 1980s, which is considerably larger than the college income premium. Over the past four decades, the wealth of college households has tripled. By contrast, the wealth of noncollege households has barely grown in real terms over the same period. Part of the rising wealth gap can be traced back to ...
College Tuition and Income Inequality
This paper evaluates the role of rising income inequality in explaining observed growth in college tuition. We develop a competitive model of the college market in which college quality depends on instructional expenditure and the average ability of admitted students. An innovative feature of our model is that it allows for a continuous distribution of college quality. We find that observed increases in US income inequality can explain more than the entire observed rise in average net tuition since 1990 and that rising income inequality has also depressed college attendance.
Who Values Access to College?
At first glance, college appears to be of great value to most, given its mean returns and sharply subsidized tuition. An empirically-disciplined human capital model that allows for variation in college readiness suggests otherwise: Nearly half of high school completers place zero value on access to college. This renders blanket subsidies potentially inefficient. As proof of principle, we show that redirecting subsidies away from those who would nonetheless enroll--towards a stock index retirement fund for those who do not even when college is subsidized--increases ex-ante welfare by 1 percent ...
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 ...
College Access and Attendance Patterns: A Long-Run View
We harmonize the results of 42 different data sets and studies dating back to the early 20th century to construct a time series of college attendance patterns for the United States. We find an important reversal around the time of World War II: before that time, family characteristics such as income were the better predictor of college attendance; afterwards, academic ability was the better predictor. We construct a model of college choice that can explain this reversal. The model's central mechanism is an exogenous rise in the demand for college that leads better colleges to become ...
Who Values Access to College?
A first glance at US data suggests that college -- given its mean returns and sharply subsidized cost for all enrollees -- could be of great value to most. Using an empirically-disciplined human capital model that allows for variation in college readiness, we show otherwise. While the top decile of valuations is indeed large (40 percent of consumption), nearly half of high school completers place zero value on access to college. Subsidies to college currently flow to those already best positioned to succeed and least sensitive to them. Even modestly targeted alternatives may therefore improve ...
The Effect of Constitutional Provisions on Education Policy and Outcomes
Education services in the United States are determined predominantly by non-market institutions, the rules of which are defined by state constitutions. This paper empirically examines the effect of changes in constitutional provisions on education outcomes in the United States. To show causal effects, we exploit discontinuities in the procedure for adopting constitutional amendments to compare outcomes when an amendment passed with those when an amendment failed. Our results show that adoption of an amendment results in higher per-pupil expenditure, higher teacher salaries, smaller class ...