NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Estimating the Return to College Selectivity over the Career Using Administrative Earnings Data

Stacy Dale, Alan B. Krueger

NBER Working Paper No. 17159
Issued in June 2011
NBER Program(s):   ED   LS

We estimate the monetary return to attending a highly selective college using the College and Beyond (C&B) Survey linked to Detailed Earnings Records from the Social Security Administration (SSA). This paper extends earlier work by Dale and Krueger (2002) that examined the relationship between the college that students attended in 1976 and the earnings they self-reported reported in 1995 on the C&B follow-up survey. In this analysis, we use administrative earnings data to estimate the return to various measures of college selectivity for a more recent cohort of students: those who entered college in 1989. We also estimate the return to college selectivity for the 1976 cohort of students, but over a longer time horizon (from 1983 through 2007) using administrative data.

We find that the return to college selectivity is sizeable for both cohorts in regression models that control for variables commonly observed by researchers, such as student high school GPA and SAT scores. However, when we adjust for unobserved student ability by controlling for the average SAT score of the colleges that students applied to, our estimates of the return to college selectivity fall substantially and are generally indistinguishable from zero. There were notable exceptions for certain subgroups. For black and Hispanic students and for students who come from less-educated families (in terms of their parents' education), the estimates of the return to college selectivity remain large, even in models that adjust for unobserved student characteristics.

download in pdf format
   (235 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (235 K) or via email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17159

Estimating the Return to College Selectivity of the Career Using Administrative Earning Data,” (with Stacy Dale), forthcoming in Journal of Human Resources, Spring 2014.

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Dale and Krueger w7322 Estimating the Payoff to Attending a More Selective College: An Application of Selection on Observables and Unobservables
Abdulkadiroğlu, Angrist, and Pathak w17264 The Elite Illusion: Achievement Effects at Boston and New York Exam Schools
Andrews, Li, and Lovenheim w18068 Quantile Treatment Effects of College Quality on Earnings: Evidence from Administrative Data in Texas
Altonji, Blom, and Meghir w17985 Heterogeneity in Human Capital Investments: High School Curriculum, College Major, and Careers
Hoxby w15446 The Changing Selectivity of American Colleges
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us