What about the non-completers? The labor market returns to progress in community college

Clive Belfield, Marc Scott, Matthew Zeidenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Despite copious research on the labor market returns to college, very little has adequately modeled the pathways of non-completers or compared their outcomes with those of award-holders. In this paper, we present a novel method for linking non-completers with completers according to their program of study. We use this method to calculate the labor market returns to programs of study, accounting for those who obtain an award and those who do not. We use a large dataset of community college transcripts matched with earnings data. We find that different classification systems - by algorithm, intent or goal - yield very different enrollment patterns across programs. Importantly, these classifications make a substantial difference to earnings patterns. Returns vary by program completion and by program non-completion. Consequently, combining completers and non-completers yields a new pattern of returns. We find that the variance in returns by subject of study is reduced when we combine data on completers and non-completers. In particular, the large returns to nursing awards are substantially lower when we account for the probability of completing a nursing program and the returns to not completing a nursing program. In addition, progression per se does not lead to higher earnings for non-completers: progressing further in a nursing program is no different from accumulating general college credits. If validated, these findings have significant implications for policies on program choice and on student retention policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-156
Number of pages115
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Volume49
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Fingerprint

labor market
nursing
community
program of study
subject of study
Market returns
Labour market
Community college
credit
Nursing
student

Keywords

  • I23
  • J3
  • Non-completion
  • Postsecondary education
  • Returns to college

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Education

Cite this

What about the non-completers? The labor market returns to progress in community college. / Belfield, Clive; Scott, Marc; Zeidenberg, Matthew.

In: Economics of Education Review, Vol. 49, 01.12.2015, p. 42-156.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{bb311e24094240fdaae1b0096ccd2ed2,
title = "What about the non-completers? The labor market returns to progress in community college",
abstract = "Despite copious research on the labor market returns to college, very little has adequately modeled the pathways of non-completers or compared their outcomes with those of award-holders. In this paper, we present a novel method for linking non-completers with completers according to their program of study. We use this method to calculate the labor market returns to programs of study, accounting for those who obtain an award and those who do not. We use a large dataset of community college transcripts matched with earnings data. We find that different classification systems - by algorithm, intent or goal - yield very different enrollment patterns across programs. Importantly, these classifications make a substantial difference to earnings patterns. Returns vary by program completion and by program non-completion. Consequently, combining completers and non-completers yields a new pattern of returns. We find that the variance in returns by subject of study is reduced when we combine data on completers and non-completers. In particular, the large returns to nursing awards are substantially lower when we account for the probability of completing a nursing program and the returns to not completing a nursing program. In addition, progression per se does not lead to higher earnings for non-completers: progressing further in a nursing program is no different from accumulating general college credits. If validated, these findings have significant implications for policies on program choice and on student retention policies.",
keywords = "I23, J3, Non-completion, Postsecondary education, Returns to college",
author = "Clive Belfield and Marc Scott and Matthew Zeidenberg",
year = "2015",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.econedurev.2015.09.004",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "49",
pages = "42--156",
journal = "Economics of Education Review",
issn = "0272-7757",
publisher = "Elsevier Limited",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - What about the non-completers? The labor market returns to progress in community college

AU - Belfield, Clive

AU - Scott, Marc

AU - Zeidenberg, Matthew

PY - 2015/12/1

Y1 - 2015/12/1

N2 - Despite copious research on the labor market returns to college, very little has adequately modeled the pathways of non-completers or compared their outcomes with those of award-holders. In this paper, we present a novel method for linking non-completers with completers according to their program of study. We use this method to calculate the labor market returns to programs of study, accounting for those who obtain an award and those who do not. We use a large dataset of community college transcripts matched with earnings data. We find that different classification systems - by algorithm, intent or goal - yield very different enrollment patterns across programs. Importantly, these classifications make a substantial difference to earnings patterns. Returns vary by program completion and by program non-completion. Consequently, combining completers and non-completers yields a new pattern of returns. We find that the variance in returns by subject of study is reduced when we combine data on completers and non-completers. In particular, the large returns to nursing awards are substantially lower when we account for the probability of completing a nursing program and the returns to not completing a nursing program. In addition, progression per se does not lead to higher earnings for non-completers: progressing further in a nursing program is no different from accumulating general college credits. If validated, these findings have significant implications for policies on program choice and on student retention policies.

AB - Despite copious research on the labor market returns to college, very little has adequately modeled the pathways of non-completers or compared their outcomes with those of award-holders. In this paper, we present a novel method for linking non-completers with completers according to their program of study. We use this method to calculate the labor market returns to programs of study, accounting for those who obtain an award and those who do not. We use a large dataset of community college transcripts matched with earnings data. We find that different classification systems - by algorithm, intent or goal - yield very different enrollment patterns across programs. Importantly, these classifications make a substantial difference to earnings patterns. Returns vary by program completion and by program non-completion. Consequently, combining completers and non-completers yields a new pattern of returns. We find that the variance in returns by subject of study is reduced when we combine data on completers and non-completers. In particular, the large returns to nursing awards are substantially lower when we account for the probability of completing a nursing program and the returns to not completing a nursing program. In addition, progression per se does not lead to higher earnings for non-completers: progressing further in a nursing program is no different from accumulating general college credits. If validated, these findings have significant implications for policies on program choice and on student retention policies.

KW - I23

KW - J3

KW - Non-completion

KW - Postsecondary education

KW - Returns to college

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84944389553&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84944389553&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.econedurev.2015.09.004

DO - 10.1016/j.econedurev.2015.09.004

M3 - Article

VL - 49

SP - 42

EP - 156

JO - Economics of Education Review

JF - Economics of Education Review

SN - 0272-7757

ER -