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CVER Research Paper

Where versus What: College Value-Added and Returns to Field of Study in Further Education


Enrolling in vocational education and training programs constitutes a natural response to the current dynamics of the labour market, which is being reshaped by routinisation, automation, and outsourcing. We estimate the value-added of colleges providing vocational education and training to young and adult learners in England, and the returns to different fields of study taught at these colleges. Using a unique panel dataset that includes multiple measures of students' prior ability and background characteristics, we are able to comprehensibly account for usual threats to identification. We find moderate heterogeneity in college value-added for outcomes such as daily earnings and employment probabilities. Dispersion in value-added for academic outcomes is more pronounced. Earnings returns vary substantially across fields of study, are higher for young than for adult learners and tend to be larger for females than for males.


Esteban Aucejo, Claudia Hupkau and Jenifer Ruiz-Valenzuela

23 June 2020     Paper Number CVERDP030

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