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Jacob Light

2023–24 Dissertation Fellowship

This project studies how college/university courses adjust to changing skill demand in the labor market. Using a unique "course catalog" dataset containing detailed information for the full set of courses offered at a nationally representative sample of more than 400 US colleges and universities, totaling 11 million courses offered over the last two decades, I measure changing course supply in response to changing student demand in two ways. First, I estimate the elasticity of course supply to course enrollment using an instrumental variables strategy that isolates the portion of changing student enrollment attributable to changing occupational demand in the labor market. Second, I use Natural Language Processing methods to estimate the changing "skill-relevance" of college courses relative to the skills listed in contemporaneous job descriptions. In both analyses, I use the diversity of institutions in my sample to conduct a heterogeneity analysis to show which institutional characteristics (e.g. faculty composition, revenue structure, size) enable/hinder institutions' responses to changing labor market conditions. The analyses collectively provide novel insight into the instructional supply side of higher education.

Major Skills: Measuring Skill Heterogeneity across College Majors
2020 CSS Fellowship