Community Colleges and Upward Mobility
83 Pages Posted: 17 May 2019
Date Written: February 26, 2019
Two-year community colleges enroll nearly half of all first-time undergraduates, but to ambiguous effect: low persistence rates and the potential for diverting students from 4-year institutions cast ambiguity over 2-year colleges’ contributions to upward mobility. Developing a new multivariate instrumental variables approach applied to linked administrative education and earnings records, I disentangle the net impacts of 2-year college access into two competing causal margins: significant value-added for 2-year entrants who otherwise would not have attended college, but negative impacts on students diverted from 4-year entry. 2-year access particularly boosts the upward mobility of disadvantaged students, who experience less 4-year diversion.
Keywords: Community colleges, 2-year colleges, upward mobility, diversion, instrumental variables, multiple treatments, returns to college
JEL Classification: I26, J24, C31, C36
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation