International Policy Center Home Page

New paper from Jacob, McCall, and Stange analyses the "College as Country Club"

January 29, 2013

A new paper by Brian A. Jacob, Brian P. McCall, and Kevin M. Stange, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, is receiving attention from The Chronicle of Higher Education and other publications for its analysis of the pressure facing universities to provide students with greater amenities.

The paper, titled "College as Country Club: Do Colleges Cater to Students' Preferences for Consumption?" affirms the role of demand-side market pressure in encouraging college investment in consumption amenities.

"One important implication of our analysis is that for many institutions, demand-side market pressure may not compel investment in academic quality, but rather in consumption amenities," the authors write in the paper.

Furthermore, the paper finds that often student taste for academic quality is confined to high-achieving students while interest in amenities is more broad-based.

"This is an important finding given that quality assurance is primarily provided by demand-side pressure: the fear of losing students is believed to compel colleges to provide high levels of academic quality. Our findings call this accountability mechanism into question."

Read about the new paper in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and the Freakonomics Blog.