Skip to main content

Kevin Rask: Investing in Faculty Aids Disadvantaged Students

An article in the Nov. 2 issue of Inside Higher Ed, "The Case for Better Faculty Pay," features a study co-authored by Kevin Rask, research professor in the Economics and Business Department at Colorado College, that suggests that schools with higher expenditures per student have better student labor market outcomes. In particular, investing more in instruction yields key returns, including better undergraduate employment outcomes - especially for disadvantaged students.

Rask and Amanda Griffith, associate professor of economics at Wake Forest University, co-authored "The Effect of Institutional Expenditures on Employment Outcomes and Earnings." The study also suggests that spending on certain kinds of students services, such as career-oriented programs, correlates with better career outcomes for more advantaged students.

The researchers note that "Not only do instructional expenditures help to compensate for more disadvantaged backgrounds during college, but these expenditures continue to help these students in the labor market. They may increase salaries and, more strikingly, they make these students significantly more likely to gain full-time employment and to land a job that closely matches their skill set formed in college."

The study finds that expenditures on student services have a larger impact on labor market outcomes of college graduates from more affluent or educationally advantaged backgrounds. Increased expenditures in this area correlate with students finding a field related to their college major, possibly because such services provide important networking opportunities that continue post-graduation, according to the study.

The findings mean that disadvantaged students can compensate for a lack of resources earlier in their educational experiences by attending institutions with high-quality faculty, Griffith said. That's because such students may benefit from better instruction and more high-quality classes.

The researchers say their results point to the importance of high-quality faculty, as well as the importance of other educational student services, suggesting that the increased spending in these areas over the past decade or so is in fact benefiting students rather than wasting their tuition dollars.

While previous studies have shown that school quality or selectivity have benefits in the market place, Rask said that this work highlights the influence that particular types of expenditures can have on the labor market outcomes of students in general and the greater benefits to students from disadvantaged backgrounds in particular.

Rask's areas of expertise are the economics of education, quantitative methods, and resource and environmental economics. He teaches courses in applied econometrics, and co-teaches the Economics of Higher Education with his wife, Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler.

Report an issue - Last updated: 12/24/2020