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Not the Great Equalizer? Local Economic Mobility and Inequality Effects for the Establishment of U.S. Universities

We exploit historical natural experiments to test whether universities increase economic mobility and equality. We use "runner-up’" counties that were strongly considered to become university sites but were not selected for as-good-as-random reasons as counterfactuals for university counties. University establishment causes greater intergenerational income mobility but also increases cross-sectional income inequality. We highlight four findings to explain this seeming paradox: universities hollow out the local labor market and provide greater opportunities to achieve top incomes, both of which increase cross-sectional inequality, and increase educational attainment and connections to high-SES people, which prevent inequality from perpetuating into intergenerational immobility.

Keywords
Post-secondary educational attainment; inequality
Education level
Topics
Document Object Identifier (DOI)
10.26300/1ygg-yc61

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Russell, Lauren C., and Michael J. Andrews. (). Not the Great Equalizer? Local Economic Mobility and Inequality Effects for the Establishment of U.S. Universities. (EdWorkingPaper: 22-634). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/1ygg-yc61

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