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Country Club U

Here is a new research finding:

College as Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students’Preferences for Consumption?
by Brian Jacob, Brian McCall, Kevin M. Stange  –  #18745 (CH ED LS)

This paper investigates whether demand-side market pressure explains colleges’ decisions to provide consumption amenities to their students.  We estimate a discrete choice model of college demand using micro data from the high school classes of 1992 and 2004, matched to extensive information on all four-year colleges in the U.S. We find that most students do appear to value college consumption amenities, including spending on student activities, sports, and dormitories.  While this taste for amenities is broad-based, the taste for academic quality is confined to high-achieving students.  The heterogeneity in student preferences implies that colleges face very different incentives depending on their current student body and the students who the institution hopes to attract.  We estimate that the elasticities implied by our demand model can account for 16 percent of the total variation across colleges in the ratio of amenity to academic spending, and including them on top of key observable characteristics (sector, state, size, selectivity) increases the explained variation by twenty percent.


This is, of course, not surprising, particularly to those of you who are working at such places. But what would be more interesting would be to do this from the faculty/staff perspective.

2 Responses to “Country Club U”

  1. Scott says:

    yes, it absolutely does.

    Goddammn. I never really thought about it that way.

    What is also interesting to consider is the possible impact this has on consumption patterns and attitude toward personal debt.

  2. chuck martel says:

    During a conversation with a D-III hockey coach from New England I asked how a small school could afford the expense of a hockey team, rink and maintenance, uniforms, travel, coaches salaries, etc. when only small crowds show up for their games. He explained that I was missing the point, the hockey program was established to entice students not spectators, that the twenty or thirty fellows that played hockey would be paying tuition somewhere else if they couldn’t play hockey at his place. It was something of a revelation.

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