Winners and Losers? The Effect of Gaining and Losing Access to Selective Colleges on Education and Labor Market Outcomes

64 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2020 Last revised: 15 Oct 2022

See all articles by Sandra Black

Sandra Black

Columbia University

Jeffrey Denning

Brigham Young University

Jesse Rothstein

University of California, Berkeley, The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy; University of California, Berkeley, College of Letters & Science, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 2020

Abstract

Selective college admissions are fundamentally a question of tradeoffs: Given capacity, admitting one student means rejecting another. Research to date has generally estimated average effects of college selectivity, and has been unable to distinguish between the effects on students gaining access and on those losing access under alternative admissions policies. We use the introduction of the Top Ten Percent rule and administrative data from the State of Texas to estimate the effect of access to a selective college on student graduation and earnings outcomes. We estimate separate effects on two groups of students. The first--highly ranked students at schools which previously sent few students to the flagship university--gain access due to the policy; the second--students outside the top tier at traditional “feeder” high schools--tend to lose access. We find that students in the first group see increases in college enrollment and graduation with some evidence of positive earnings gains 7-9 years after college. In contrast, students in the second group attend less selective colleges but do not see declines in overall college enrollment, graduation, or earnings. The Top Ten Percent rule, introduced for equity reasons, thus also seems to have improved efficiency.

Suggested Citation

Black, Sandra and Denning, Jeffrey and Rothstein, Jesse, Winners and Losers? The Effect of Gaining and Losing Access to Selective Colleges on Education and Labor Market Outcomes (March 2020). NBER Working Paper No. w26821, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3550969

Sandra Black (Contact Author)

Columbia University

Jeffrey Denning

Brigham Young University ( email )

Provo, UT 84602
United States

Jesse Rothstein

University of California, Berkeley, The Richard & Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy ( email )

2607 Hearst Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720-7320
United States

HOME PAGE: http://eml.berkeley.edu/~jrothst

University of California, Berkeley, College of Letters & Science, Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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