The Academic Consequences of Employment for Students Enrolled in Community College
College students are increasingly combining studying with paid employment, and community college students tend to work even longer hours compared with students at four-year colleges. Yet, there is little evidence on the academic consequences of community college students' term-time employment. Using a rare administrative dataset from Washington State that combines students' quarterly transcript records with earning records from the state Unemployment Insurance system, this study relies on two causal strategies: first, an individual fixed effects strategy that takes advantage of the quarterly nature of the data to control for unobserved and time-invariant differences among students, and second, an instrumental variable-difference-in-differences framework that takes advantage of the fact that there is an exogenous supply of retail jobs during the winter holidays. The study compares academic outcomes in the fall and winter quarters for students who were more likely to work in retail and those less likely to work in retail based on pre-enrollment association with retail jobs. The findings reject the possibility of large negative effects for small increases in employment for community college students.
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