Does Immigration Crowd Natives into or out of Higher Education?

Osborne Jackson, Northeastern University

This paper investigates the impact of immigration on the college enrollment of natives. Existing studies have primarily focused on the effect of increased immigrant demand for schooling on native enrollment. However, changes in immigrant labor supply may also affect native enrollment if they alter the net benefit of higher education by changing local market prices. Using decadal U.S. Census microdata from 1970 to 2000, I find that state-level increases in immigrant college students do not significantly lower the rate of native college enrollment in those states. In contrast, state-level increases in relatively unskilled immigrant labor do significantly raise the proportion of natives in those states going to college. The identification of a crowd-in effect and the lack of a significant crowd-out effect are suggestive of college demand that is fairly wage-sensitive and college slots that are flexibly supplied over a decadal time horizon.

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Presented in Session 198: Higher Education: Cross-Country Comparisons and Mobility