Can Online Learning Bend the Higher Education Cost Curve?

13 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2015 Last revised: 7 Mar 2015

See all articles by David James Deming

David James Deming

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Claudia Goldin

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Lawrence F. Katz

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Noam Yuchtman

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

We examine whether online learning technologies have led to lower prices in higher education. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, we show that online education is concentrated in large for-profit chains and less-selective public institutions. Colleges with a higher share of online students charge lower tuition prices. We present evidence that real and relative prices for full-time undergraduate online education declined from 2006 to 2013. Although the pattern of results suggests some hope that online technology can “bend the cost curve” in higher education, the impact of online learning on education quality remains uncertain.

Suggested Citation

Deming, David James and Goldin, Claudia and Katz, Lawrence F. and Yuchtman, Noam, Can Online Learning Bend the Higher Education Cost Curve? (January 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20890. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2555430

David James Deming (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Claudia Goldin

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-3934 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
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617-588-0356 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)

Lawrence F. Katz

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

Littauer Center
Room 215
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-5148 (Phone)
617-868-2742 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/katz/katz

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Noam Yuchtman

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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