Community Colleges and Upward Mobility

74 Pages Posted: 17 May 2019 Last revised: 14 Aug 2021

See all articles by Jack Mountjoy

Jack Mountjoy

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Date Written: August 13, 2021

Abstract

Two-year community colleges enroll nearly half of all first-time undergraduates in the United States, 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. This paper develops a new instrumental variables approach to identifying causal effects along multiple treatment margins, and applies it to linked education and earnings registries to 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 immediate 4-year entry.

Keywords: Community colleges, 2-year colleges, upward mobility, diversion, instrumental variables, multiple treatments, returns to college

JEL Classification: I26, J24, C31, C36

Suggested Citation

Mountjoy, Jack, Community Colleges and Upward Mobility (August 13, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3373801 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3373801

Jack Mountjoy (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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