Firm recruiting strategies, educational attainment, and the labor market return to higher education
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This dissertation analyzes the determinants of labor market outcomes, with a focus on the labor market return to post-secondary education. The first chapter analyzes the matching of firms and recent college graduates through on-campus recruiting. Based on in-depth interviews with employers and career services personnel, I develop a theoretical model describing how firms choose target campuses given relevant search frictions. The model's central insight is that the decision to recruit at a university and the wage offer are driven not just by the university's quality, but also by the quality of the surrounding universities. There is strong empirical support for this prediction using the Baccalaureate and Beyond survey and newly collected data from 39 finance and consulting firms. Holding university quality constant, a university with a better regional rank is more likely to attract firms, and its graduates have higher earnings (controlling for the individual's test score). Structural estimation suggests that search frictions have important consequences for firm hiring strategies, student outcomes, and profits in this market. The second chapter analyzes whether there is a differential labor market return to certificates and Associate's degrees from for-profit relative to not-for-profit universities. Using the Beginning Postsecondary Student Survey and Transcript Data, we find no statistically significant differential return. Point estimates suggest a slightly lower return to a for-profit certificate and a slightly higher return to a for-profit Associate's degree. There is considerable variation in the return to certification across majors, including many with negligible or negative returns. The third chapter analyzes the impact of teen motherhood on labor market investments and outcomes, using five cycles of the National Survey of Family Growth. Teen mothers who conceived pre-maritally obtained less education (especially socioeconomically advantaged teens), married earlier and faced a higher risk of never marrying (especially after 1960). Socioeconomically advantaged teens avoided this negative outcome. Women who had been teen mothers in the 1940s and 1950s appear to have been at a disadvantage in the labor market of the 1970s, and faced higher costs of divorce. Motherhood positively affected labor force outcomes for teens married before conception, perhaps driven by earlier-timed births.