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Labor Market Effects of Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs: Lessons from Colombia

This paper estimates the heterogeneous labor market effects of enrolling in higher education short-cycle (SC) programs. Expanding access to these programs might affect the behavior of some students (compliers) in two margins: the expansion margin (students who would not have enrolled in higher education otherwise) and the diversion margin (students who would have enrolled in bachelor’s programs otherwise). To quantify these responses, we exploit local exogenous variation in the supply of higher education institutions (HEIs) facing Colombian high school graduates in an empirical multinomial choice model with several instruments. According to our findings, the presence of at least one HEI specialized in SC programs in the vicinity of the student’s high school municipality increases SC enrollment by 3.7-4.5 percentage points (40-50% of the SC enrollment rate). The diversion margin largely drives this effect. For female compliers, enrollment in SC programs increases formal employment relative to the next-best alternative. For male compliers, in contrast, it lowers formal employment and wages. These results should alert policymakers of the unexpected consequences of higher education expansionary policies.

higher education, short-cycle programs, expansion, diversion
Education level
Document Object Identifier (DOI)

EdWorkingPaper suggested citation:

Ferreyra, Maria Marta, Camila Galindo, and Sergio Urzua. (). Labor Market Effects of Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs: Lessons from Colombia. (EdWorkingPaper: 23-714). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University:

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