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ERIC Number: ED553226
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Aug
Pages: 44
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 30
Is It Worth It? Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Outcomes for the Disadvantaged. Discussion Paper No. 1425-14
Backes, Benjamin; Holzer, Harry J.; Velez, Erin Dunlop
Institute for Research on Poverty
In this paper we examine a range of postsecondary education and labor market outcomes, with a particular focus on minorities and/or disadvantaged workers. We use administrative data from the state of Florida, where postsecondary student records have been linked to Unemployment Insurance (UI) earnings data and also to secondary education records. Our main findings can be summarized as follows: (1) gaps in secondary school achievement can account for a large portion of the variation in postsecondary attainment and labor market outcomes between the disadvantaged and other students, but meaningful gaps also exist "within" achievement groups; and (2) earnings of the disadvantaged are hurt by low completion rates in postsecondary programs, poor performance during college, and not choosing high-earning fields. In particular, significant labor market premia can be earned in a variety of more technical certificate and Associate in Arts (AA) programs, even for those with weak earlier academic performance, but instead many disadvantaged (and other) students choose general humanities programs at the AA (and even the bachelor's or Bachelor of Arts) level with low completion rates and low compensation afterwards. A range of policies and practices might be used to improve student choices as well as their completion rates and earnings. [This paper is part of the Postsecondary Education and Labor Market Program at the Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) at the American Institutes of Research (AIR). Tiffany Chu and Kennan Cepa provided research assistance. This research was supported by the CALDER postsecondary initiative, funded through grants provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Smith Richardson Foundation to the American Institutes of Research.]
Institute for Research on Poverty. Publications Department, 1180 Observatory Drive, Madison, WI 53706-1393. Tel: 608-262-6358; Fax: 608-265-3119; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Numerical/Quantitative Data
Education Level: Postsecondary Education; Secondary Education; Two Year Colleges; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Smith Richardson Foundation; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (DHHS)
Authoring Institution: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Institute for Research on Poverty; University of Texas at Austin, Center for Health and Social Policy (CHASP)
Identifiers - Location: Florida