The Value of Postsecondary Credentials in the Labor Market: An Experimental Study

David J. Deming, Noam Yuchtman, Amira Abulafi, Claudia Goldin, Lawrence F. Katz

NBER Working Paper No. 20528
Issued in September 2014
NBER Program(s):   DAE   ED   LS

We study employers’ perceptions of the value of postsecondary degrees using a field experiment. We randomly assign the sector and selectivity of institutions to fictitious resumes and apply to real vacancy postings for business and health jobs on a large online job board. We find that a business bachelor’s degree from a for-profit “online” institution is 22 percent less likely to receive a callback than one from a non-selective public institution. In applications to health jobs, we find that for-profit credentials receive fewer callbacks unless the job requires an external quality indicator such as an occupational license.

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This paper was revised on January 26, 2016

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20528

Published: David J. Deming & Noam Yuchtman & Amira Abulafi & Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 2016. "The Value of Postsecondary Credentials in the Labor Market: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 778-806, March. citation courtesy of

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