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ERIC Number: ED573077
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Jan
Pages: 27
Abstractor: As Provided
Estimating Returns to College Attainment: Comparing Survey and State Administrative Data Based Estimates. Appendices A, B, C, D, and E. A CAPSEE Working Paper
Scott-Clayton, Judith; Wen, Qiao
Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment
The increasing availability of massive administrative datasets linking postsecondary enrollees with post-college earnings records has stimulated a wealth of new research on the returns to college, and has accelerated state and federal efforts to hold institutions accountable for students' labor market outcomes. Many of these new research and policy efforts rely on state databases limited to postsecondary enrollees who work in the same state post-college, with limited information regarding family background and pre-college ability. In this paper, we use recent waves of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) to provide new, nationally representative, non-experimental estimates of the returns to degrees, as well as to assess the possible limitations of single-state, administrative-data-based estimates. To do this we evaluate how the national estimates change, depending upon the baseline comparison group, adjustments for pre-college achievement and family background, and alternative ways of addressing interstate mobility. We conclude with a discussion of the relative advantages and disadvantages of survey versus administrative data for estimating returns to college, as well as implications for research and policy efforts based upon single-state administrative databases. The appendices presented here include: (1) Definitions and Additional Notes for Key Variables; (2) Additional Details of Data Cleaning; (3) Comparing Self-Reported and Administrative College Enrollment and Attainment Data; (4) Results of Crosschecking Self-Reported Survey Data and Postsecondary Transcripts Data for the NLSY97; and (5) Selected Studies on the Labor Market Returns to Postsecondary Education. [For the full report: "Estimating Returns to College Attainment: Comparing Survey and State Administrative Data Based Estimates," see ED573076.]
Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment. Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street Box 174, New York, NY 10027. Tel: 212.678.3091; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Institute of Education Sciences (ED)
Authoring Institution: Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment (CAPSEE)
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Longitudinal Survey of Youth
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305C110011