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Douglas Webber

Associate Professor of Economics, Temple University
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About Douglas

Webber is a labor economist whose research focuses on the economics of higher education, including student loan policy, higher ed financing, and the return to different college majors, as well as and labor market mobility. In 2015 he testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions about specific policies to reform the federal student loan system. 


In the News

"Is College Worth It? Going beyond Averages," Douglas Webber, Third Way, September 18, 2018.
Douglas Webber's research on college debt discussed by Andrew Kreighbaum, "The Link Between Completion and Loan Repayment," Inside Higher Ed, August 8, 2018.
"We Must Protect Our Most Vulnerable Students from Debt," Douglas Webber, The Hill, June 14, 2018.
Douglas Webber quoted on community college budgets by Matt Reed, "Pattern Recognition" Inside Higher Ed, May 4, 2018.
"Higher Ed, Lower Spending," Douglas Webber, Education Next, Summer 2018.
Douglas Webber quoted on medicaid spending and education cuts by Gabrielle Levy, "Increases in Medicaid Spending Come at the Expense of Higher Education: Study" U.S. News & World Report, May 1, 2018.
Douglas Webber quoted by Ryan Quinn, "Experts Question Aspects of WV's Free Community College Tuition Bill" Charleston Gazette-Mail, January 27, 2018.
Douglas Webber quoted by Shellie Karabell, "Donald Trump: The New Ugly American?" Forbes, January 8, 2018.
Douglas Webber's research on Cherri Gregg, "Flashpoint: GOP Tax Reform Law, Pardoned New Jersey Offender, and MLK Day," CBS Philly, January 7, 2018.
Douglas Webber quoted by Cherri Gregg, "What the Tax Reform Law Means for Tax Payers" CBS Philadelphia, January 5, 2018.
Douglas Webber quoted by Sam Meredith, "Meet the Far-lLeft Firebrand Threatening to Derail the French Election" CNBC, April 14, 2017.
"Fancy Dorms aren’t the Main Reason Tuition is Skyrocketing," Douglas Webber, Fivethirtyeight, September 13, 2016.
"Clinton Issues a Promising Proposal for Tuition Reform," Douglas Webber, The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 10, 2015.
"Colleges Should Share the Risk for Student-Loan Defaults," Douglas Webber, The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 8, 2015.


"Are College Costs Worth It? How Individual Ability, Major Choice, and Debt Affect the Returns to Schooling" Economics of Education Review 53 (2016): 296-310.

Evaluates the financial proposition of going to college taking into account many factors often ignored, such as the high probability one will not actually graduate. College is a good financial investment even under various pessimistic assumptions, but may not pay off financially until later in life depending on factors such as major and type of institution attended.

"The Returns to College Persistence for Marginal Students: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from University Dismissal Policies," (with Ben Ost and Victor Pan), IZA Discussion Paper Series, December 31, 1969.

Estimates the financial return to college for students with a poor academic track record.  We find very large returns for these students, implying that a common argument against increasing college access does not hold.

"Firm-Level Monopsony and the Gender Pay Gap" Industrial Relations 55, no. 2 (2016): 323-345.

Estimates the amount of the gender pay gap which is due to factors which constrain an individual’s job mobility. 

"Firm Market Power and the Earnings Distribution" Labour Economics 35 (2015): 123-134.

Estimates the degree that earnings inequality is driven by job mobility and labor market imperfections.

"The Lifetime Earnings Premia of Different Majors: Correcting for Selection Based on Cognitive, Noncognitive, and Unobserved Factors" Labour Economics 28 (2014): 14-23.

Examines the lifetime economic return to different majors, and how each major premia has changed over time.

"Do Expenditures Other than Instructional Expenditures Affect Graduation and Persistence Rates in American Higher Education?" (with Ronald G. Ehrenberg). Economics of Education Review 29, no. 6 (2014): 947-958.

Examines the impact of various types of college spending on student outcomes. Student service expenditures are found to increase graduation rates among lower achieving students, while instructional expenditures are associated with improved outcomes for high achievers.