The Value of Postsecondary Credentials in the Labor Market: An Experimental Study

By: David Deming, Noam Yuchtman, Amira Abulafi, Claudia Goldin, & Lawrence F. Katz | October 2014

This paper examines employers’ perceptions of postsecondary degrees using a field experiment. The authors randomly assigned the sector and selectivity of institution to fictitious resumes and sent them to real vacancy postings on a large online job board. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in business from a for-profit “online” institution were 22 percent less likely to receive a callback than similar applicants with a degree from a nonselective public institution. Applicants with degrees from selective public institutions were more likely to receive callbacks from employers posting higher-salaried jobs, suggesting that employers value college quality and the likelihood of a successful match when contacting applicants.

A version of this paper appears in the American Economic Review.

Note: A similar version of this paper was released as an NBER working paper in September 2014.

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