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Intended college attendance: Evidence from an experiment on college returns and costs

Zachary Bleemer () and Basit Zafar

Journal of Public Economics, 2018, vol. 157, issue C, 184-211

Abstract: We conduct an information experiment about college returns and costs embedded within a representative survey of US household heads. Baseline perceptions of college costs and benefits are substantially biased, with larger biases among lower-income and non-college households. Respondents are randomly exposed to objective information about average college “returns” or costs. We find a significant impact of the “returns” experiment, persisting in a follow-up survey two months later: intended college attendance expectations increase by about 0.2 of the standard deviation in the baseline likelihood, and gaps by household income or parents’ education decline by 20–30%. We find no impact of the cost information treatment. Further analysis supports the information’s salience, as opposed to information-based updating, as the main channel through which the returns intervention impacts intentions.

Keywords: College enrollment; College returns and costs; Information; Subjective expectations (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D81 D83 D84 I21 I24 I28 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Working Paper: Intended college attendance: evidence from an experiment on college returns and costs (2015) Downloads
Working Paper: Intended College Attendance: Evidence from an Experiment on College Returns and Cost (2015) Downloads
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