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.


Peterson, Paul E. "Cost-Benefit Information Closes Aspiration Gaps – If Parents Think Their Child Is Ready for College." Education Economics 29.3 (January 2021): 233-251.