Is it Worth it? Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes for the Disadvantaged

39 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2014

See all articles by Benjamin Backes

Benjamin Backes

American Institutes for Research

Harry J. Holzer

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Erin Dunlop

American Institutes for Research

Abstract

In this paper we examine a range of postsecondary education and labor market outcomes, with a particular focus on minorities and/or disadvantaged workers. We use administrative data from the state of Florida, where postsecondary student records have been linked to UI earnings data and also to secondary education records. Our main findings can be summarized as follows:1) Gaps in secondary school achievement can account for a large portion of the variation in postsecondary attainment and labor market outcomes between the disadvantaged and other students, but meaningful gaps also exist within achievement groups, and 2) Earnings of the disadvantaged are hurt by low completion rates in postsecondary programs, poor performance during college, and not choosing high-earning fields. In particular, significant labor market premia can be earned in a variety of more technical certificate and Associate (AA) programs, even for those with weak earlier academic performance, but instead many disadvantaged (and other) students choose general humanities programs at the AA (and even the Bachelor’s or BA) level with low completion rates and low compensation afterwards.A range of policies and practices might be used to improve student choices as well as their completion rates and earnings.

Keywords: postsecondary education, earnings, certificates, associate degrees, bachelor degrees, fields of study, low-income students, minority students

JEL Classification: I23, I24, J24

Suggested Citation

Backes, Benjamin and Holzer, Harry J. and Dunlop, Erin, Is it Worth it? Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes for the Disadvantaged. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8474. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2505336

Benjamin Backes (Contact Author)

American Institutes for Research

1990 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006-1107
United States

Harry J. Holzer

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI) ( email )

3600 N Street, NW Suite 200
Washington, DC 20057
United States

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

Erin Dunlop

American Institutes for Research ( email )

No Address Available

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
21
Abstract Views
250
PlumX Metrics