Students' heterogeneous preferences and the uneven spatial distribution of colleges.

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Date: July 2022
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 320 words

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Keywords Higher education; College competition; Geography of opportunity Highlights * Students' college application and enrollment choices indicate a strong preference for proximity to home: the typical student values an increase in distance from 10 to 100 miles the same as a nearly $6,000 increase in tuition. * Students' preferences differ substantially by family income. Higher-income students exhibit stronger preferences for college quality, and weaker preferences for proximity to home. * Students with otherwise identical characteristics can have dramatically different expected values of applying to college depending on where they live. This is especially true for high-SAT students, for whom living in a state like Virginia or Connecticut versus a state like Nevada or Wyoming can mean a difference in expected value equivalent to over $7,000 in tuition. Abstract The uneven geographic distribution of colleges in the United States endows students with uneven access to colleges depending on where they live. To examine the implication of this for student welfare, we estimate a model of high school students' college choices, allowing for rich heterogeneity in students' preferences for college attributes. We use data on students' enrollment decisions and application decisions--i.e., the sets of colleges to which they applied--to identify the distribution of students' preferences, and find that place indeed matters: the expected value of applying to college differs dramatically across states and across counties within a state. Author Affiliation: (a) University of Wisconsin & NBER, United States (b) University of Wisconsin, United States * Corresponding author. Article History: Received 25 February 2022; Accepted 1 March 2022 (footnote)[white star] We are grateful for helpful comments from Emily Cook, Adam Kapor, Chris Sleet, Jeff Smith, and seminar participants at the University of Oregon, the NBER Labor Studies Meeting, the North American and China meetings of the Econometric Society, and the Carnegie-Rochester-NYU Conference on Public Policy. Byline: Chao Fu [cfu@ssc.wisc.edu] (a), Junjie Guo [jguo27@wisc.edu] (b), Adam J. Smith [ajsmith26@wisc.edu] (b), Alan Sorensen [sorensen@ssc.wisc.edu] (*,a)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A706769202