Evaluations of Higher Education Policies
Thursday, November 12, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Tuttle North (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Peter Hinrichs, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
Panel Chairs: Joshua Goodman, Harvard University
Discussants: Andrew Barr, Texas A&M University
This session will feature three papers that estimate the effects of notable policies in higher education. The papers study different policies in different contexts, but the papers are united in at least two ways. First, the policies they study are ones that are either targeted at or else particularly likely to impact members of disadvantaged groups. Second, the papers use quasi-experimental methods in an attempt to credibly estimate the causal effects of these policies on important educational outcomes.
The paper by Charles Clotfelter, Steven Hemelt, and Helen Ladd studies the impact of the Carolina Covenant, a program implemented by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that eliminated out-of-pocket costs for low-income students while also providing them with additional support services. The authors use a regression discontinuity design that makes use of the program eligibility rule, as well as a difference-in-differences analysis that utilizes time variation in the program, finding that the program had little impact in its early years but a large, positive effect in more recent years.
The paper by Rodney Andrews, Scott Imberman, and Michael Lovenheim also examines programs aimed at low-income college students, albeit different programs and in a different context. This paper estimates the effects of two related programs in Texas: the University of Texas at Austin’s Longhorn Opportunity Scholars program and Texas A&M’s Century Scholars program. These programs are both targeted at specific low-income high schools, and they provide additional financial aid and support services to students from those schools who enroll at UT Austin or Texas A&M. The authors use a difference-in-differences analysis that relies on variation in program implementation over time and cross-sectional variation in eligibility for the programs, and they find that these programs have beneficial effects on educational outcomes and on earnings.
The paper by Peter Hinrichs studies a higher education policy that has been implemented by a number of states: a ban on using affirmative action in college admissions to public universities statewide. Previous research has found that these bans reduce minority enrollment at selective colleges but do not affect overall college attendance rates. The effects of affirmative action bans on segregation levels across universities have not yet been directly studied. The author uses a difference-in-differences estimator that relies on the staggered implementation of these laws in order to estimate their effects on standard segregation indexes, such as dissimilarity indexes and exposure indexes. The results suggest that affirmative action bans may in some cases actually reduce racial segregation across colleges.
The session includes authors from a diverse set of institutions and is connected to the theme of the conference.