This paper reviews the evidence on the efficacy of neighborhood and school interventions in improving the long-run outcomes of children growing up in poor families, focusing on studies exploiting exogenous sources of variation in neighborhoods and schools and that examine at least medium-term outcomes. Higher-quality neighborhoods improve family safety, adult subjective well-being and health, and girls’ mental health, but have no detectable impact on youth human capital, labor market outcomes, or risky behaviors. In contrast, higher-quality schools can improve children’s academic achievement and can have longer-term positive impacts of increasing educational attainment and earnings and reducing incarceration and teen pregnancy.
For-profit, or proprietary, colleges are the fastest-growing postsecondary schools in the nation,
enrolling a disproportionately high share of disadvantaged and minority students and those
ill-prepared for college. Because these schools, many of them big national chains, derive most
of their revenue from taxpayer-funded student financial aid, they are of interest to policy makers not only for the role they play in the higher education spectrum but also for the value they
provide their students. In this article, David Deming, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence Katz look
at the students who attend for-profits, the reasons they choose these schools, and student outcomes on a number of broad measures and draw several conclusions.
First, the authors write, the evidence shows that public community colleges may provide an
equal or better education at lower cost than for-profits. But budget pressures mean that community colleges and other nonselective public institutions may not be able to meet the demand
for higher education. Some students unable to get into desired courses and programs at public
institutions may face only two alternatives: attendance at a for-profit or no postsecondary education at all.
Second, for-profits appear to be at their best with well-defined programs of short duration that
prepare students for a specific occupation. But for-profit completion rates, default rates, and
labor market outcomes for students seeking associate’s or higher degrees compare unfavorably
with those of public postsecondary institutions. In principle, taxpayer investment in student
aid should be accompanied by scrutiny concerning whether students complete their course of
study and subsequently earn enough to justify the investment and pay back their student loans.
Designing appropriate regulations to help students navigate the market for higher education has
proven to be a challenge because of the great variation in student goals and types of programs.
Ensuring that potential students have complete and objective information about the costs and
expected benefits of for-profit programs could improve postsecondary education opportunities
for disadvantaged students and counter aggressive and potentially misleading recruitment practices at for-profit colleges, the authors write.
We examine long-term neighborhood effects on low-income families using data from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) randomized housing-mobility experiment, which offered some public-housing families but not others the chance to move to less-disadvantaged neighborhoods. We show that 10-15 years after baseline, MTO improves adult physical and mental health, has no detectable effect on economic outcomes or youth schooling or physical health, and mixed results by gender on other youth outcomes, with girls doing better on some measures and boys doing worse. Despite the somewhat mixed pattern of impacts on traditional behavioral outcomes, MTO moves substantially improve adult subjective well-being.
This paper examines long-term shifts in the relative demand for skilled labor in the United States. Although de-skilling in the conventional sense did occur overall in nineteenth century manufacturing, a more nuanced picture is that occupations “hollowed out”: the share of “middle-skill” jobs – artisans – declined while those of “high-skill” – white collar, non-production workers – and “low-skill” – operatives and laborers increased. De-skilling did not occur in the aggregate economy; rather, the aggregate shares of low skill jobs decreased, middle skill jobs remained steady, and high skill jobs expanded from 1850 to the early twentieth century. The pattern of monotonic skill upgrading continued through much of the twentieth century until the recent “polarization” of labor demand since the late 1980s. New archival evidence on wages suggests that the demand for high skill (white collar) workers grew more rapidly than the supply starting well before the Civil War.
Private for-profit institutions have been the fastest-growing part of the U.S. higher education sector. For-profit enrollment increased from 0.2 percent to 9.1 percent of total enrollment in degree-granting schools from 1970 to 2009, and for-profit institutions account for the majority of enrollments in non-degree-granting postsecondary schools. We describe the schools, students, and programs in the for-profit higher education sector, its phenomenal recent growth, and its relationship to the federal and state governments. Using the 2004 to 2009 Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) longitudinal survey, we assess outcomes of a recent cohort of first-time undergraduates who attended for-profits relative to comparable students who attended community colleges or other public or private non-profit institutions. We find that relative to these other institutions, for-profits educate a larger fraction of minority, disadvantaged, and older students, and they have greater success at retaining students in their first year and getting them to complete short programs at the certificate and AA levels. But we also find that for-profit students end up with higher unemployment and "idleness" rates and lower earnings six years after entering programs than do comparable students from other schools and that, not surprisingly, they have far greater default rates on their loans.
Adults living in high-poverty neighborhoods often fare worse than adults in more advantaged neighborhoods on their physical health, mental health, and economic well-being. Although social scientists have observed this association for hundreds of years, they have found it difficult to determine the extent to which the neighborhoods themselves affect well-being versus the extent to which people at greater risk for adverse outcomes live in impoverished neighborhoods. In this article, we examine neighborhood effects using data from the 10- to 15-year evaluation of the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing demonstration, which offered randomly selected families a housing voucher. The experimental design of MTO allows us to isolate the effects of neighborhoods from selection bias. We find that, 10 to 15 years after enrolling participants, the program had very few detectable effects on economic well-being but had some substantial effects on the physical and mental health of adults. For adults whose families received the offer of a housing voucher that could be used to move only to a low-poverty neighborhood, we find health benefits in terms of lower prevalence of diabetes, extreme obesity, physical limitations, and psychological distress. For adults offered a Section 8 voucher, we find benefits in terms of less extreme obesity and lower prevalence of lifetime depression.
Evidence about the effects of neighborhood environments on children and youth is central to the design of a wide range of public policies. Armed with long-term survey data from the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) for Fair Housing demonstration final impacts evaluation (Sanbonmatsu et al., 2011), we have the opportunity to understand whether neighborhood poverty and related characteristics exert an independent causal effect on the life chances of young people. Findings from analyses of youth in the long-term survey for the final impacts evaluation show that MTO had few detectable effects on a range of schooling outcomes, even for those children who were of preschool age at study entry. MTO also had few detectable effects on physical health outcomes. In other youth outcome domains, patterns of effects on youth were similar to, but more muted than, those in the interim impacts evaluation (Orr et al., 2003), with favorable patterns among female youth—particularly on mental health outcomes—and less favorable patterns among male youth.
Pharmacy has become a female-majority profession that is highly remunerated with a small gender earnings gap and low earnings dispersion relative to other occupations. We sketch a labor market framework based on the theory of equalizing differences to integrate and interpret our empirical findings on earnings, hours of work, and the part-time work wage penalty for pharmacists. Using extensive surveys of pharmacists for 2000, 2004, and 2009 as well as samples from the American Community Surveys and the Current Population Surveys, we explore the gender earnings gap, the penalty to part-time work, labor force persistence, and the demographics of pharmacists relative to other college graduates. We address why the substantial entrance of women into the profession was associated with an increase in their earnings relative to male pharmacists. We conclude that the changing nature of pharmacy employment with the growth of large national pharmacy chains and hospitals and the related decline of independent pharmacies played key roles in the creation of a more family-friendly, female-friendly pharmacy profession. The position of pharmacist is probably the most egalitarian of all U.S. professions today.
Nearly 9 million Americans live in extreme-poverty neighborhoods, places that also tend to be racially segregated and dangerous. Yet, the effects on the well-being of residents of moving out of such communities into less distressed areas remain uncertain. Using data from Moving to Opportunity, a unique randomized housing mobility experiment, we found that moving from a high-poverty to lower-poverty neighborhood leads to long-term (10- to 15-year) improvements in adult physical and mental health and subjective well-being, despite not affecting economic self-sufficiency. A 1–standard deviation decline in neighborhood poverty (13 percentage points) increases subjective well-being by an amount equal to the gap in subjective well-being between people whose annual incomes differ by $13,000—a large amount given that the average control group income is $20,000. Subjective well-being is more strongly affected by changes in neighborhood economic disadvantage than racial segregation, which is important because racial segregation has been declining since 1970, but income segregation has been increasing.
Labor market policies succeed or fail at least in part depending on how well they reflect or account for behavioral responses. Insights from behavioral economics, which allow for realistic deviations from standard economic assumptions about behavior, have consequences for the design and functioning of labor market policies. We review key implications of behavioral economics related to procrastination, difficulties in dealing with complexity, and potentially biased labor market expectations for the design of selected labor market policies including unemployment compensation, employment services and job search assistance, and job training.
The history of coeducation in U.S. higher education is explored through an analysis of a database containing information on all institutions offering four-year undergraduate degrees that operated in 1897, 1924, 1934, or 1980, most of which still exist today. These data reveal surprises about the timing of coeducation and the reasons for its increase. Rather than being episodic and caused by financial pressures brought about by wars and recessions, the process of switching from single-sex to coeducational colleges was relatively continuous from 1835 to the 1950s before it accelerated (especially for Catholic institutions) in the 1960s and 1970s. We explore the empirical implications of a model of switching from single-sex education to coeducation in which schools that become coeducational lose donations from existing alumni. But by raising the quality of new students, a switch to coeducation increases other future revenues. We find that older and private single-sex institutions were slower to become coeducational and that institutions persisting as single sex into the 1970s had lower enrollment growth in the late 1960s and early 1970s than those that switched earlier. We also find that access to coeducational institutions in the first half of the twentieth century was associated with increased women’s educational attainment. Coeducation mattered to women's education throughout U.S. history and it mattered to a greater extent in the more distant past than in the more recent and celebrated period of change.