Research has established the benefits of higher education and the importance of affordability, however less is known about how the availability of higher education affects educational attainment. By constructing a comprehensive dataset on college openings in the U.S. from 1969 to 1991, I show that exogenous variation in two-year and four-year college availability, caused by changed birth cohort sizes and local college openings, substantially affects educational attainment. New four-year colleges increase the likelihood of obtaining a Bachelor's degree, while new two-year colleges only affect Associate's degree attainment. Additionally, results show that students from larger cohorts are crowded out of four-year colleges. This crowd-out results in lower lifetime educational attainment by pushing students to two-year colleges.
Shapiro, Teny Maghakian, "Availability of Higher Education and Educational Outcomes: Quantifying the Impacts of College Openings and Cohort Size" (2015). Economics. Paper 20.