We construct a time series of college attendance patterns for the United States and document a reversal: family background was a better predictor of college attendance before World War II, but academic ability was afterward. We construct a model of college choice that explains this reversal. The model's central mechanism is that an exogenous surge of college attendance leads better colleges to be oversubscribed, institute selective admissions, and raise their quality relative to their peers, as in Hoxby (2009). Rising quality at better colleges attracts high-ability students, while falling quality at the remaining colleges dissuades low-ability students, generating the reversal.
Hendricks, Lutz, Christopher Herrington, and Todd Schoellman.
"College Quality and Attendance Patterns: A Long-Run View."
American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics,
Higher Education; Research Institutions
Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
Economic History: Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy: U.S.; Canada: 1913-