The Impact of Business Cycle Fluctuations on Graduate School Enrollment

Publisher: Economics of Education Review, vol. 34
Jun 30, 2013
Authors
Matthew T. Johnson

Key Findings:

  • Female graduate school enrollment is countercyclical but male enrollment is acyclical.
  • Business cycle fluctuations have non-linear impacts on female graduate school enrollment.
  • Poor labor market conditions lead to a substitution from full-time enrollment to part-time enrollment.

This paper adds to the understanding of student decisions about graduate school attendance by studying the magnitude of the effect of business cycle fluctuations on enrollment. I use data on graduate school enrollment from the Current Population Survey and statewide variation in unemployment rates across time to proxy for changes in business cycle conditions. I find that overall graduate school enrollment is countercyclical for females and acyclical for males. I show that changes in the unemployment rate have non-linear impacts on female enrollment and that poor labor market conditions lead to a substitution from full-time enrollment to part-time enrollment for both genders.

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Matthew Johnson
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