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Do Human Capital Decisions Respond to the Returns to Education? Evidence from DACA

Elira Kuka, Na'ama Shenhav, Kevin Shih

NBER Working Paper No. 24315
Issued in February 2018, Revised in April 2019
NBER Program(s):Children, Economics of Education, Labor Studies

This paper studies human capital responses to the availability of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary work authorization and deferral from deportation for undocumented, high-school-educated youth. We use a sample of young adults that migrated to the U.S. as children to implement a difference-in-differences design that compares non-citizen immigrants ("eligible") to citizen immigrants ("ineligible") over time. We find that DACA significantly increased high school attendance and high school graduation rates, reducing the citizen-noncitizen gap in graduation by 40%. We also find positive, though imprecise, impacts on college attendance.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24315

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