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[Excerpt] The economics of higher education goes back at least to Adam Smith, who suggested over 200 years ago in the Wealth of Nations that professors should get paid based upon the number of students enrolled in their classes. The econometrics of higher education is of much more recent vintage and emerged from the development of human capital theory and the efforts to estimate rates of return to education in the 1960s and 1970s. In the sections that follow, I survey the various strands of the literature on the econometrics of higher education that have developed during the last 40 years and indicate how the papers in this issue fit into this literature. I discuss in turn the estimation of rates of return to higher education, studies of the academic labor market, studies relating to institutional behavior, and studies relating to higher education as an industry.


Suggested Citation
Ehrenberg, R. G. (2003). Econometric studies of higher education (CHERI Working Paper #29). Retrieved [insert date], from Cornell University, ILR School site:

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Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, Cornell University.

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