May 2015

IZA DP No. 9080: The Consequences of Academic Match between Students and Colleges

published in: Journal of Human Resources, 2020, 55(3), 768-808.

We consider the effects of student ability, college quality, and the interaction between the two on academic outcomes and future earnings. Both ability and college quality strongly improve outcomes and earnings. We find little evidence to support the "mismatch" hypothesis that college quality and ability interact in substantively important ways. All students benefit from attending higher quality colleges. Our estimates imply that resorting students to eliminate mismatch, without changing the capacity of any colleges, would raise expected graduation rates by only 0.6 percentage points and mean earnings by $400 per year. The substantial gains for students who move to higher quality colleges under this reshuffling roughly cancel out the losses of students who move down.