Estimating the Return to College Selectivity Over the Career Using Administrative Earnings Data

40 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2011  

Stacy Berg Dale

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: June 2011

Abstract

We estimate the monetary return to attending a highly selective college using the College and Beyond (C&B) Survey linked to Detailed Earnings Records from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This paper extends earlier work by Dale and Krueger (2002) that examined the relationship between the college that students attended in 1976 and the earnings they self-reported reported in 1995 on the C&B follow-up survey. In this analysis, we use administrative earnings data to estimate the return to various measures of college selectivity for a more recent cohort of students: those who entered college in 1989. We also estimate the return to college selectivity for the 1976 cohort of students, but over a longer time horizon (from 1983 through 2007) using administrative data.We find that the return to college selectivity is sizeable for both cohorts in regression models that control for variables commonly observed by researchers, such as student high school GPA and SAT scores. However, when we adjust for unobserved student ability by controlling for the average SAT score of the colleges that students applied to, our estimates of the return to college selectivity fall substantially and are generally indistinguishable from zero. There were notable exceptions for certain subgroups. For black and Hispanic students and for students who come from less-educated families (in terms of their parents' education), the estimates of the return to college selectivity remain large, even in models that adjust for unobserved student characteristics.

Suggested Citation

Dale, Stacy Berg and Krueger, Alan B., Estimating the Return to College Selectivity Over the Career Using Administrative Earnings Data (June 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17159. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1871566

Stacy Berg Dale (Contact Author)

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

140 East 62nd Street
New York, NY 10021
United States

Alan B. Krueger

Princeton University - Industrial Relations Section ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544-2098
United States
609-258-4046 (Phone)
609-258-2907 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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