Higher Education in the United States: The Role of the Federal Government in a Market-Based System Open Access

Spillane, Jordan Michael (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/3b591931k?locale=en


Ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, candidates on both sides of the political aisle have called for higher education reform. American voters, in turn, must decide the appropriate role for federal government in the U.S. postsecondary market. This paper addresses the issue by exploring theoretical microeconomic, empirical mesoeconomic, and inferential macroeconomic dimensions of American higher education. Analysis begins by establishing the rationale for market-based tertiary schooling and demonstrating the need for federal intervention, then considers historic and proposed strategies for regulation. Ultimately, a concluding section offers two actionable policy recommendations to correct U.S. postsecondary market failure.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Historical Context. 2

Present Politics. 6

Chapter One Microeconomics and the Rationale for Market-Based Higher Education. 10

Demand. 11

Supply. 15

Equilibrium. 17

Chapter Two Mesoeconomics and the Need for Regulatory Intervention. 20

Externalities. 21

Imperfect Information. 24

Capital Market Failures. 27

Self-Regulation. 30

Chapter Three Macroeconomics and the Role of Federal Government. 33

Tertiary Attainment. 34

Price of Tuition. 38

Student Debt. 42

Conclusion. 48

Recommendations. 49

Extensions and Limitations. 53

Bibliography. 56

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