Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Virginia, Wilcox V.

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Economics


This research explores the causal effects of labor market conditions on college enrollment and attainment of high school graduates and answers the following questions: Does leaving high school in unfavorable labor market conditions cause a higher probability of college enrollment? Is this effect different between gender and across racial/ethnic groups? Does this effect vary regarding cognitive ability? Does this effect change over cohorts/generations? And does the positive effect on college enrollment in the short run translate into a positive effect on college degree attainment later?

The analysis that uses the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97) data suggests that unfavorable labor market conditions at the time of leaving high school increase college enrollment one year after high school. The analysis that uses the Current Population Survey (CPS) data shows this effect has varied significantly over cohorts/generations of the past 40 years. The empirical results from analyzing the NLSY97 also indicate that the positive impact on college enrollment in the short run also translates into positive effects on achieving more educational attainment, either in terms of completing more years of college or attaining a college degree six years after high school. Overall, these effects are not strongly heterogeneous between the sexes; however, these effects are highly disproportional across race/ethnicity and ability subgroups.


139 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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Media Type


Included in

Economics Commons