The Effects of Graduating from High School in a Recession: College Investments, Skill Formation, and Labor-Market Outcomes
We investigate the short- and long-term effects of economic conditions at high-school graduation as a source of exogenous variation in the labor-market opportunities of potential college entrants. Exploiting business cycle fluctuations across birth cohorts for 28 developed countries, we find that bad economic conditions at high-school graduation increase college enrollment and graduation. They also affect outcomes in later life, increasing cognitive skills and improving labor-market success. Outcomes are affected only by the economic conditions at high-school graduation, but not by those during earlier or later years. Recessions at high-school graduation narrow the gender gaps in numeracy skills and labor-market success.