Research Papers

(also circulated under the title "Heterogeneity in Returns to Sub-Baccalaureate Credentials: Evidence from Minnesota")

There is a growing consensus that obtaining a sub-baccalaureate credential leads to increased earnings.  However, it remains unclear to what degree these returns are driven by increases in productivity or labor supply.  Using detailed UI data from Minnesota, I estimate the labor market returns associated with completing sub-baccalaureate credentials from community colleges.  First I show that these credentials increase quarterly earnings, consistent with prior findings.  I then decompose the proportion of earnings returns attributed to productivity (wages) and hours worked. More than 60% of the earnings returns to completing an associate degree are due to an increase in hours, with substantial heterogeneity by field of study.  This effect is largely driven by part-time workers being pulled into full-time work. Additionally, I find that those working few hours pre-college experience little-to-no wage gains from completing a credential, with nearly all of their earnings return stemming from working more hours post-graduation.  Finally, I provide descriptive evidence that suggests community college credentials help individuals who were previously hours-constrained attain full-time work. 

Additional Research Experience