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Examining the Impact of a Highly Targeted State Administered Merit Aid Program on Brain Drain: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Missouri’s Bright Flight Program

Abstract

The adoption of state-funded merit-based aid programs has become increasingly popular among policy-makers, particularly in the southeastern part of the United States. One of the primary rationales of state-funded merit-based aid is to provide scholarships to the best and brightest students as a means to retain high quality human capital in the state’s labor market. Previous literature largely examines the link between state-funded merit-based aid and instate college enrollment, but it has not extensively examined the link between state-administered merit aid and subsequent instate labor market participation. In this study, we use statewide administrative datasets to estimate the effects of Missouri’s Bright Flight Scholarship program, a highly targeted state administered merit aid program, on future instate employment. Using a regression discontinuity approach on the intent to treat, we find that having the opportunity to participate in the Bright Flight Scholarship program has a positive impact on the likelihood of working in the state 8 years after high school graduation. Overall, this study provides evidence that highly targeted state-funded merit-based financial aid programs may have a positive impact on reducing state brain drain.

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Notes

  1. As of 2014, the eligibility rules were changed with the implementation of the two-tier award structure. The state provides an award of $3000 for Missouri high school graduates with an ACT score of 31 or higher, and an award of $1000 for an ACT score of 30. These changes are outside of the analysis period for this study, thus, do not impact our study.

  2. At least a 3.5 GPA and score of 1270 SAT (28 ACT) for full tuition. At least a 3.0 GPA and score of 970 SAT (20 ACT) for 75 % of tuition.

  3. However, it should be noted that is still possible for an individual to be hired in the second, third, or fourth quarter of that year, which would go undetected using first quarter data.

  4. Explanations for our choice of preferred functional form and analytical sample are explained below.

  5. Results for model estimates using a probit estimator can be obtained at request of the authors.

  6. Results of the cubic functional form models will be provided upon a request of the authors.

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Correspondence to James R. Harrington.

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Harrington, J.R., Muñoz, J., Curs, B.R. et al. Examining the Impact of a Highly Targeted State Administered Merit Aid Program on Brain Drain: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Missouri’s Bright Flight Program. Res High Educ 57, 423–447 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-015-9392-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-015-9392-9

Keywords

  • Brain drain
  • State merit aid
  • Regression discontinuity