Labor Market Effects of Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs. Challenges and Evidence from Colombia

Produced by: 
The World Bank
Available from: 
June 2021
Paper author(s): 
Maria Marta Ferreyra
Camila Galindo
Sergio Urzúa
Education - Health

This paper estimates the labor market effects of enrolling in a short-cycle program in Colombia. Following evidence for the U.S., increasing access to short-cycle degrees might attract some students who would not have enrolled in higher education otherwise (i.e., the expansion or democratization margin), while also inducing other students to divert from bachelor’s- and into short-cycle- degrees (i.e., the diversion margin). To identify responses along these margins, this paper uses an Instrumental Variables strategy and exploits local variation in the supply of short-cycle programs for the universe of high school graduates in 2005. Having at least one higher education institution specialized in short-cycle degrees within a 10 km radius of the student’s high school municipality increases enrollment in short-cycle programs by 3 percentage points, or 30 percent of the sample average. Results indicate that this enrollment increase is largely driven by students who would divert from bachelor’s to short-cycle degrees due to changes in the local supply of short-cycle program. For these students, SCPs improve participation in the formal labor market among females, although they lead to lower monthly wages among males.


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