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The College Cost Disease

Higher Cost and Lower Quality Robert E. Martin, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Centre College, US
College cost per student has been on the rise at a pace that matches – or exceeds – healthcare costs. Unlike healthcare, though, teaching quality has declined, and rapidly rising costs and declining quality are not trends easily forgiven by society. The College Cost Disease addresses these problems, providing a behavioral framework for the chronic cost/quality consequences with which higher education is fraught. Providing many compelling insights into the issues plaguing higher education, Robert Martin expounds upon H.R. Bowen’s revenue theory of cost by detailing experience good theory, the principal/agent problem, and non-profit status.
Extent: 208 pp
Hardback Price: $116.00 Web: $104.40
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 978 1 84980 616 9
Availability: In Stock
Paperback Price: $46.00 Web: $36.80
Publication Date: 2012
ISBN: 978 1 78195 338 9
Availability: In Stock
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  • Economics and Finance
  • Economics of Education
  • Education
  • Economics of Education
College cost per student has been on the rise at a pace that matches – or exceeds – healthcare costs. Unlike healthcare, though, teaching quality has declined, and rapidly rising costs and declining quality are not trends easily forgiven by society. The College Cost Disease addresses these problems, providing a behavioral framework for the chronic cost/quality consequences with which higher education is fraught. Providing many compelling insights into the issues plaguing higher education, Robert Martin expounds upon H.R. Bowen’s revenue theory of cost by detailing experience good theory, the principal/agent problem, and non-profit status.

Reputation competition dominates higher education. Students and their parents, and public opinion in general, associate higher tuition with higher quality and greater accolades; price is used as a proxy for quality only when consumers are uncertain about quality prior to purchase. Higher education services are the most complex types of ‘experience goods’; a service whose quality can only be determined after a purchase has been made. Applying formal economic theory to higher education, Robert Martin examines how and why attempts to control costs are controversial and the damaging effects these controversies have on institutions’ reputations. Arguing that the college access problem cannot be solved until colleges and universities find a way to control their costs, this book brings to the fore the leading ideas that will bring about much-needed budgetary reform in higher education.

Governing boards, administrators and faculty members should find much to think on and learn from here; parents, students, alumni and taxpayers will find the research and conclusions alarming, though eye-opening.
‘The College Cost Disease is indeed a useful reading, not only for the students of economics of education, but also for others interested in quality and also that the costs of higher education would immensely benefit from.’
– Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, Journal of Educational Planning and Administration
Contents: Preface 1. Cost, Quality, and Anomalies in Higher Education 2. Statistical Measures: Teaching Productivity, Cost, Financial Burden, and Quality 3. Reputations and the Chivas Regal Effect 4. The Principal/Agent Problem in Higher Education 5. Commercialization: The Devil Made Me Do It! 6. The Gresham Effect, Lemons, and Teaching 7. Inside the Black Box Glossary Bibliography Index