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ERIC Number: ED574811
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Dec
Pages: 37
Abstractor: As Provided
The Labor Market Returns to a Community College Education for Non-Competing Students. A CAPSEE Working Paper
Bahr, Peter Riley
Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment
In this study, I use data from California to estimate the returns to a community college education for students who do not complete postsecondary credentials. I find strong, positive returns to completed credits in career and technical education (CTE) fields that are closely linked to employment sectors that are not credential-intensive, such as public safety, skilled blue collar trade and technical work, and accounting and bookkeeping, among others. In these sectors, students are able to convert the human capital acquired in their coursework into returns that far exceed the cost of the coursework itself, making some non-completing educational pathways a rational means of securing earnings gains. This finding is consistent with emerging research on skills-builder students and other segments of the community college student population who exhibit coherent patterns of course-taking and enrollment that typically do not result in a credential. These results are not without caveat, however, as I also find that the returns to credits are less consistent for Black and Asian students than they are for White and Hispanic students, and less consistent for female students than they are for male students, indicating the need for further investigation as well as attention to context in applying the results.
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: Two Year Colleges; 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 - Location: California
IES Funded: Yes
Grant or Contract Numbers: R305C110011