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Safe Port in a Storm: The Impact of Labor Market Conditions on Community College Enrollments

Julian R. Betts and Laurel L. McFarland

Journal of Human Resources, 1995, vol. 30, issue 4, 741-765

Abstract: The paper examines the impact of the business cycle on enrollments and finances at individual community colleges between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s. We find that 1 percent increases in the unemployment rates of recent high school graduates and of all adults are associated with rises in full-time attendance of about 0.5 percent and 4 percent respectively. Part-time enrollment exhibits similar anticyclical patterns. This link carries over in large part to degrees obtained. In contrast, state and local appropriations per student are procyclical. We interpret this funding pattern as a failure to integrate education policy sufficiently closely with labor market policy.

Date: 1995
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