Liberty for More: Finance and Educational Opportunities
Banking reforms—that reduced interest rates—boosted college enrollment rates among able students from middle class families. We define “able” students as those with learning aptitude scores in the top two-thirds of the U.S. population. We define “middle class” as families in which both parents are not highly-educated (above 12 years of education) and that are neither in the bottom fourth nor in the top 10 percent of the distribution family income in the U.S. Our findings suggest that credit conditions, the ability of an individual to benefit from college, and a family’s financial and educational circumstances combine to shape college decisions. The functioning of the financial system plays a powerful role in shaping the degree to which a child’s educational choices—and hence economic opportunities—are defined by parental income.
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This paper was revised on October 10, 2013