Productivity in Higher Education
How do the benefits of higher education compare with its costs, and how does this comparison vary across individuals and institutions? These questions are fundamentally about the education sector’s productivity. Productivity in Higher Education advances the frontier of knowledge by using rich and novel administrative data, modern econometric methods, and deep institutional understanding to explore productivity issues. The volume includes chapters that examine the returns to undergraduate education, how costs differ by major, the productivity of for-profit schools, the productivity of various types of faculty and of outcomes, how online education has affected the higher education market, and how institutions’ productivity responds to market forces. The analyses recognize five key challenges to assessing productivity in higher education: there are multiple outcomes for students, including skills, earnings, invention, and employment; colleges and universities are “multi-product” firms that conduct varied activities across many domains; students select which school to attend based in part on their aptitude; the difficulty of attributing outcomes to individual institutions when students attend more than one; and the possibility that some of the benefits of higher education may arise from the system as a whole, and not just a single institution. The findings and the approaches illustrated can facilitate the decision-making process in higher education.