Examining the Earnings Trajectories of Community College Students Using a Piecewise Growth Curve Modeling Approach

By: Shanna Smith Jaggars & Di Xu | April 2015

Policymakers have become increasingly concerned with measuring—and holding colleges accountable for—students’ labor market outcomes. In this paper, the authors introduce a piecewise growth approach to analyzing community college students’ labor market outcomes and discuss how this approach differs from Mincerian and fixed-effects approaches.

The results suggest that three assumptions underpinning traditional approaches may not be well founded. The authors highlight how insights gained from the growth curve approach can be used to strengthen evolving econometric analyses of labor market returns, as well as to improve the accuracy and usefulness of the relatively simple models required by policymakers and practitioners.

A version of this paper is published in the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness.

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