Three essays on economics of higher education
This dissertation consists of three chapters. In Chapter 1, we use data from the 2015-16 academic year to document faculty representation and wage gaps by race/ethnicity and gender in six fields at 40 selective, public universities. Consistent with widely available information, black, Hispanic, and female professors are underrepresented and white and Asian professors are overrepresented in our data. We show that disadvantaged-minority and female underrepresentation is driven predominantly by underrepresentation in STEM fields. A comparison of senior and junior faculty suggests a trend toward greater diversity in academia along racial/ethnic and gender lines, especially in STEM fields, because younger faculty are more diverse. However, black faculty are an exception; there is little indication that their representation is improving among young faculty. We decompose racial/ethnic and gender wage gaps and show that three observed factors account for most or all of the gaps: academic field, experience, and research productivity. We find no evidence of wage premiums for individuals who improve racial/ethnic and gender diversity, although for black faculty we cannot rule out a modest premium. In Chapter 2, I use student-level administrative data from a state flagship university to study the effect of changes in non-resident enrollment on in-state student outcomes. I leverage within-major and cross-time variation in non-resident enrollment using a differences-in-differences framework. I find no evidence of negative effects of non-resident enrollment growth on third-year persistence or performance outcomes for in-state students. Moreover, there is no effect heterogeneity by in-state student gender or race. There is some evidence of effect heterogeneity when I split total non-resident enrollment into (a) out-of-state domestic enrollment and (b) foreign enrollment. Specifically, the results reveal no adverse effects of out-of-state domestic enrollment growth on in-state students for any outcome measure. However, although it is modest in magnitude, there is some evidence that increasing foreign enrollment has negative effects on the postsecondary persistence of in-state students. In Chapter 3, I construct an 11-year data panel of academic departments at a state flagship university to study the relationship between changes in student demand for majors and investment in faculty resources. Larger numbers of freshmen declaring a major, and large numbers of bachelor’s degrees conferred, are both associated with more faculty and more salary expenditures on faculty. However, using various specifications of growth, I find no evidence that growth in student demand for majors is associated with growth in faculty, or faculty salary expenditures.
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