ABSTRACTI got soooooo tired of looking at amenities.
This paper investigates whether demand-side market pressure explains colleges’ decisions to provide consumption amenities to their students. We estimate a discrete choice model of college demand using micro data from the high school classes of 1992 and 2004, matched to extensive information on all four-year colleges in the U.S. We find that most students do appear to value college consumption amenities, including spending on student activities, sports, and dormitories. While this taste for amenities is broad-based, the taste for academic quality is confined to high-achieving students.....
In line with the human capital framework developed by Becker (1964), economists typically model education as an investment wherein individuals forgo current labor market earnings and incur direct costs in return for higher future wages. While this framework does not rule out that education may also provide immediate consumption, such consumption aspects have received little attention in the literature.1 Recently, however, there has been increasing attention devoted to the recreation that accompanies investment in higher education, as illustrated by the newspaper headlines above.2 The media attention coincides with an accumulation of evidence on limited student learning (Arum and Roksa, 2011), diminished study effort (Babcock and Marks, 2011), and declining graduation rates (Bound, Lovenhiem, and Turner, 2010).
While the evidence on whether colleges today devote a greater share of resources to consumption and recreational amenities than they have in the past is inconclusive, it is clear that there is substantial heterogeneity in the emphasis that institutions place on amenities (Jacob, McCall and Stange 2013a).3 In 2007, for example, the average ratio of amenity to academic spending was 0.51 across the roughly 1,300 four-year public and private non-profit postsecondary institutions in the United States. The ratio varied tremendously, from .26 at the 10th percentile to .80 at the 90th percentile. Thus different institutions make very different choices about the optimal level of consumption amenities to offer their students. While there are several systematic patterns to this heterogeneity – for instance, public institutions spend relatively less on consumption amenities– the sources of these patterns have not been previously explored.
COLLEGE AS COUNTRY CLUB: DO COLLEGES CATER TO STUDENTS’ PREFERENCES FOR CONSUMPTION?
Kevin M. Stange
Working Paper 18745
I don't think we saw a single professor on any of the campuses we visited.
We did see some books.