Returns to Vocational Credentials: Evidence from Ohio’s Community and Technical Colleges

By: Eric Bettinger & Adela Soliz | October 2016

In recent years, policymakers and academics have become increasingly interested in the returns to sub-baccalaureate degrees. This interest arises from surging demand for such programs over the 2000s, especially in the wake of the 2008 recession, as well as from President Obama’s charge to dramatically increase the number of students with a college degree of some type. The authors estimate the returns to both community and technical colleges in the state of Ohio. They find that associate degrees generate positive earnings effects for both men and women. These positive effects occur across many fields but are strongest in health. The authors find that certificates also generate positive returns, but there is some heterogeneity across men and women. Men benefit from short-duration certificates while women benefit from long-duration certificates. This result is likely driven by heterogeneity in the returns across fields.

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