A new GLO Discussion Paper finds that selective Honors programs can accelerate skill acquisition for high-achieving students at public universities.
GLO Discussion Paper No. 1112, 2022
Excellence for all? University honors programs and human capital formation – Download PDF
by Pugatch, Todd & Thompson, Paul
GLO Fellow Todd Pugatch
Author Abstract: Can public university honors programs deliver the benefits of selective undergraduate education within otherwise nonselective institutions? We evaluate the impact of admission to the Honors College at Oregon State University, a large nonselective public university. Admission to the Honors College depends heavily on a numerical application score. Nonlinearities in admis- sions probabilities as a function of this score allow us to compare applicants with similar scores, but different admissions outcomes, via a fuzzy regression kink design. The first stage is strong, with takeup of Honors College programming closely following nonlinearities in admissions prob- abilities. To estimate the causal effect of Honors College admission on human capital formation, we use these nonlinearities in the admissions function as instruments, combined with course- section fixed effects to account for strategic course selection. Honors College admission increases course grades by 0.10 grade points on the 0-4 scale, or 0.14 standard deviations. Effects are concentrated at the top of the course grade distribution. Previous exposure to Honors sections of courses in the same subject is a leading potential channel for increased grades. However, course grades of first-generation students decrease in response to Honors admission, driven by low performance in natural science courses. Results suggest that selective Honors programs can accelerate skill acquisition for high-achieving students at public universities, but not all students benefit from Honors admission.
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Vol. 35, Issue 3, July 2022: Journal of Population Economics (JOPE): 15 articles
Just released: CiteScore of JOPE moves up from 3.9 (2020) to 6.5 (2021)! LINK
Similar, its Impact Factor is now 4.7 (2021) after 2.8 (2020)! LINK
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