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Do Human Capital Decisions Respond to the Returns to Education? Evidence from DACA

October 2, 201812:00 pm1:30 pm

Join us for the second talk of our research presentation series, featuring Elira Kuka. Kuka will be presenting her paper, “Do Human Capital Decisions Respond to the Returns to Education? Evidence from DACA”, which studies the human capital responses to a large shock in the returns to education for undocumented youth.

In her paper, Kuka obtains variation in the benefits of schooling from the enactment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy in 2012, which provides work authorization and deferral from deportation for high school educated youth. By implementing a difference-in-differences design by comparing DACA eligible to non-eligible individuals over time, Kuka’s research finds that DACA had a significant impact on the investment decisions of undocumented youth. This research shows that high school graduation rates increased by between 4 and 11 percentage points, while teenage births declined by 1.7. Further, Kuka finds that college attendance increased by nearly 10 percentage points among women – suggesting that DACA raised aspirations for education above and beyond qualifying for legal status. Counter to the typical intuition that these behaviors are substitutes, Kuka’s research also finds that the same individuals who acquire more schooling also work more.

Elira KukaElira Kuka is a Visiting Scholar at IRLE for Fall 2018, sponsored by Professor Hilary Hoynes (Professor of Economics and Public Policy). She is also an Assistant Professor at Southern Methodist University. She is currently working on understanding how government policies affect individual behavior and family well-being.