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Essays on the Economics of Higher Education


The three papers that form this thesis are about higher education. It question 3 fact that are considered commmon wisdom. The first chapter analysis the importance of credit constraints on college enrollment, the scecond chapter analyses the effects of acces to credit market to survive in college education and the third analyses the effects of higer education on civic participation. The first paper re analyse the comon wisdom thta stablish that credit access do not matter to make distintions among studetn in enrillment.

The three aspect are related with market failures in the market of education. The first 2 indicates that the access to credit markets are key determinent of the enrollment gap observed in many countries. Befiore these paper the common wisdom mainly driven from evidence from the united States indicated that the enrollment gap iss minaly driven by family characteristics and ability. That access to credit market if they do not exist did not play any relevant role determining who enter into higher education.

The third paper points to another market failure. the presence of externatilities. I feducation have externalities therefore justify the government intervention to increase the amount of educaiton in the society. contraty to the common wiodom I find that education do not have an externality on civic participation.

Does limited access to credit explain some of the gap in schooling attainment between children from richer and poorer families? I present new evidence on this important question using data from two loan programs for college students in Chile. Both programs offer loans to students who score above a threshold on the national college admission test, providing the basis for a regression discontinuity evaluation design. I find that students who score just above the cutoff have nearly 20 percentage points higher enrollment than students who score just below the cutoff, which represent a 100% increase in the enrollment rate. Access to the loan program effectively eliminates the family-income gradient in enrollment among students with similar test scores. Moreover, access to loans also leads to higher enrollment in the second and third years of college, and lower dropout rates. These findings suggest that differential access to credit is an important factor behind the intergenerational transmission of income.

The relationship between education and political participation is one of the strongest relationships in political sciences. Nevertheless, recently some papers have suggested that the relationship is not causal. In this paper I use the eligibility criteria for a loan program in Chile, which produces an exogenous variation on higher education to test the causal effects of higher education on registration to vote and affiliation on a political party. I also use the discontinuity on higher education to explore different channels that have been mentioned in the literature as the mechanisms underlying the relation. I instrument higher education, college education and years of education to test the hypothesis that higher cognitive skills cause political participation. I also construct measures of the network quality (proportion of students registered to vote, presenting interest for history, having higher abilities or knowledge of history and language), to test the social network hypothesis, that exposure to better peers allowed by education implies higher participation rates. All the channels explored in the paper indicate that the relation between higher education and political participation is a spurious correlation.

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