Housing booms and busts, labor market opportunities, and college attendance

Kerwin Kofi Charles, Erik Hurst, Matthew J. Notowidigdo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


We study how the recent housing boom and bust affected college enrollment during the 2000s. We exploit cross-city variation in local housing booms, which improved labor market opportunities for young men and women. We find that the boom lowered college enrollment, with effects concentrated at two-year colleges. The decline in enrollment during the boom was generally reversed during the bust; however, attainment remains persistently low for particular cohorts, suggesting that reduced educational attainment is an enduring effect of the recent housing cycle. The housing boom can account for approximately 25 percent of the recent slowdown in college attainment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2947-2994
Number of pages48
JournalAmerican Economic Review
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics


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