Job Market Paper:“Are Four Years of College Two Years Too Many? Returns to Abilities Across College Programs”
Abstract: Critics of the U.S. education system’s current emphasis on 4-year college education suggest the net returns to a 2-year college degree, especially following career and technology education (CTE), could exceed those to a 4-year degree. Evidence on this question has been lacking, in no small part due to the problem of accounting for selection of youth into diﬀerent schooling choices, which depends on their verbal, math, and mechanical abilities (among other factors). I help ﬁll this void by estimating a generalized Roy model developed by Bourguignon et. al. (2007) using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, in which youth choose among 5 college alternatives: no college, 2-year CTE, 2-year non-CTE, 4-year STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and 4-year non-STEM. The results permit me to construct consistent estimates of the expected cumulative earnings between the ages of 25 and 29 after each college choice for every individual in my sample. These counterfactual estimates reveal that 19% of all high school graduates would maximize net earnings by choosing the 2-year CTE path. Moreover, 14% of those who choose the 4-year STEM path, and 41% of those who choose the 4-year non-STEM path are expected to have had higher net returns had they attended a 2-year CTE program. These higher returns are not solely driven by lower tuition costs, but by the unique importance of returns to mechanical ability after CTE programs.
Research in Progress:
"Economic Determinants of Performance Funding in Higher Education"
Abstract: After the great recession many U.S. state governments adopted performance funding initiatives for higher education that tie the funding of a college to its previous student outcomes. The resurgence of this historically abandoned policy defies surface-level explanations such as partisan legislative control or school budget largess. This paper develops a theoretic model that identifies economic conditions within states to predict the adoption of performance funding. Voters balance the disutility of fewer college graduates posited in education, policy and management literature with the benefit of lower tax expenditures per student. The trade-off is modeled as a function of a voter's income relative to her state's median income. Empirical work provides limited support for the model's prediction that increased disparity between the median voter's income and her state's mean income decreases the level of performance funding adopted within that state.
"Firm-Sponsored Training and Starting Wages: An Empirical Analysis" (First Author: Guanghua Wang)
Abstract: This paper uses NLSY97 data to analyze starting wages of young adults before and after the great recession. Empirical work tests the theoretic model of Acemoglu and Pischke (1999) that predicts stronger labor market frictions increase the share of general training paid by firms.
"High School Abilities and Occupational Skill Requirements"
"College Curriculum, Local Labor Market Conditions and College Outcomes"