The Changing Roles of Family Income and Academic Ability for US College Attendance

Economics

Speaker:Todd Schoellman, Arizona State University
Date: Wednesday 10 May 2017
Time: 13.30
Location: Streatham Court B

Further details

We harmonize the results of a number of historical studies to document changes in the patterns of who attends college over the course of the 20th century. We find that family income or socioeconomic status were more important predictors of who attended college before World War II, whereas academic ability was afterward. We construct a model that explains this change through a decline in search costs, motivated by the movement to standardize college admissions and disseminate college information in the 1950s. Our model generates the reversal in sorting seen in the data as well as several other patterns documented in the literature using primarily this single driving force.