In the 1970s, the American Economic Association (AEA) was one of several professional associations to launch a summer program with the goal of increasing racial and ethnic diversity in its profession. In this paper we estimate the effectiveness of the AEA’s program which, to the best of our knowledge, is the first to rigorously study such a summer program. Using a comparison group consisting of those who applied to, but did not attend, the program and controlling for an array of background characteristics, we find that program participants were over 40 percentage points more likely to apply to and attend a PhD program in economics, 26 percentage points more likely to complete a PhD,and about 15 percentage points more likely to ever work in an economics-related academic job. Using our estimates, we calculate that the program may directly account for 17-21 percent of the PhDs awarded to minorities in economics over the past 20 years.
One million international students study in the U.S. each year and the majority of them compete in global labor markets after graduation. I conduct a large-scale field experiment to study how employers in China value U.S. college education. I sent over 27,000 fictitious online applications to business and computer science jobs in China, randomizing the country of college education. I find that U.S.-educated applicants are on average 18 percent less likely to receive a callback than applicants educated in China, with applicants from very selective U.S. institutions underperforming those from the least selective Chinese institutions. The U.S.-China callback gap is smaller at high-wage jobs, consistent with employers fearing U.S.-educated applicants have better outside options and will be harder to hire and retain. The gap is also smaller at foreign-owned firms, consistent with Chinese-owned firms knowing less about American education. Controlling for high school quality, test scores, or U.S. work experiences does not attenuate the gap, suggesting that it is not driven by employer perceptions of negative selection. A companion employer survey of 260 hiring managers finds consistent and additional supporting evidence for the experimental findings.
The F-1 student visa program brings more educated migrants to the US than any other immigration program, yet student visa applicants face an approximately 27 percent visa refusal rate that varies by time and region. Using data on the universe of SAT takers between 2004 and 2015 matched with college enrollment records, we examine how the anticipated F-1 visa restrictiveness influences US undergraduate enrollment outcomes of international students. Using an instrumental variables approach, we find that a higher anticipated F-1 student visa refusal rate decreases the number of international SAT takers, decreases the probability of sending SAT scores to US colleges, and decreases international student enrollment in the US. The decreases are larger among international students with higher measured academic achievement. We also document academic achievement of international students and show that over 40 percent of high-scoring international SAT takers do not pursue US college education.