Democratization or diversion? the effect of community colleges on educational attainment

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This article estimates the impact of community colleges on educational attainment. Community colleges give those who might not have otherwise attended college the ability to do so (democratization); they also attract students who might otherwise have attended a four-year college (diversion). The effect of democratization on educational attainment is nonnegative; the effect of diversion is unclear a priori. I use variation in access to community colleges as instrumental variables to address self-selection into types of colleges. The results suggest that two-year college students diverted from a four-year college complete fewer years of education. Overall, however, community colleges appear to increase total years of schooling but do not appear to change the likelihood of attaining a bachelor’s degree.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-224
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Business and Economic Statistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty


  • College accessibility
  • College proximity
  • College tuition
  • Instrumental variables
  • Junior college
  • Two-year college


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