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Title: Comment on W. Norton Grubb, "The Varied Economic Returns to Postsecondary Education: New Evidence from the Class of 1972"
Authors: Rouse, Cecilia
Kane, Thomas J.
Keywords: returns to education
returns to community college
junior college
two-year college
Issue Date: 1-Jan-1994
Citation: Journal of Human Resources, Vol. 30, No. 1, Winter 1995
Series/Report no.: Working Papers (Princeton University. Industrial Relations Section) ; 326
Abstract: In "The Varied Economic Returns to Postsecondary Education: New Evidence from the Class of 1972", an article recently published in the Journal of Human Resources (Volume 28, no. 2, pp. 365-382), Norton Grubb reaches two main conclusions: (1) students who enroll in two-year colleges without completing degrees earn no more than comparable high school graduates; and (2) degrees from two-year colleges and vocational and technical institutes only indirectly lead to higher earnings by providing students with access to jobs in which they can accumulate experience and on-the-job training (i.e., access to "careers" instead of "jobs"). Given that roughly half of those entering college today do so at community colleges and that roughly a fifth of federal Pell Grant subsidies are spent at these institutions, such results are quite provocative. However, in this comment we show that several of the variables used in Grubb’s paper are severely mismeasured and that, when they are corrected with reasonable alternatives, his conclusions no longer receive empirical support. On the contrary, even those who enter but fail to complete degrees at community colleges do seem to earn significantly more than similar high school graduates. Further, controlling for work experience has relatively little effect on the estimated returns.
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