Increasing Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the United States

62 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2010

See all articles by John Bound

John Bound

University of Michigan; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Michael Lovenheim

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sarah E. Turner

University of Virginia; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: April 2010

Abstract

Time to completion of the baccalaureate degree has increased markedly in the United States over the last three decades, even as the wage premium for college graduates has continued to rise. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of the High School Class of 1972 and the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988, we show that the increase in time to degree is localized among those who begin their postsecondary education at public colleges outside the most selective universities. In addition, we find evidence that the increases in time to degree were more marked amongst low income students. We consider several potential explanations for these trends. First, we find no evidence that changes in the college preparedness or the demographic composition of degree recipients can account for the observed increases. Instead, our results suggest that declines in collegiate resources in the less-selective public sector increased time to degree. Furthermore, we present evidence of increased hours of employment among students, which is consistent with students working more to meet rising college costs and likely increases time to degree by crowding out time spent on academic pursuits.

Suggested Citation

Bound, John and Lovenheim, Michael and Turner, Sarah E., Increasing Time to Baccalaureate Degree in the United States (April 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w15892. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1586699

John Bound (Contact Author)

University of Michigan ( email )

611 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1220
United States
313-998-7149 (Phone)
313-998-7415 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael Lovenheim

Cornell University - Department of Policy Analysis and Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Sarah E. Turner

University of Virginia ( email )

Curry School of Education
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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