HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Professor of Public Policy, HKS; Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Government, FAS


Can information close socioeconomic gaps in parents’ postsecondary aspirations for their children? We administer a survey experiment to a nationally representative sample of U.S. parents, who are also asked whether their child is academically prepared for college. We inquire whether parents prefer their child to pursue a four-year degree, two-year degree, or no further education. Some parents are also randomly told the costs of college for an individual in their state and income bracket; local labor-market returns to a degree; or both costs and returns. Information closes socioeconomic aspiration gaps only if parents believe their child is ready for college.


Cheng, Albert, Michael B. Henderson, Paul E. Peterson, and Martin R. West. "Cost-Benefit Information Closes Aspiration Gaps – if Parents Think their Child is Ready for College." Education Economics (01/20/2021).