The Expansion of Higher Education in Colombia: Bad Students or Bad Programs?

Apr 2016
Rapid expansion in the demand for post-secondary education triggered an unprecedented boom of higher education programs in Colombia, possibly deteriorating quality. This paper uses rich administrative data matching school admission information, wages and detailed socio-economic characteristics of the young graduates, and standardized test scores pre- and post-tertiary education, to assess the heterogeneity in the value added generated by higher education programs. Our findings show that once we account for self-selection, the penalty of attending a recently created program that initially appeared to be large becomes much smaller, and close to zero.