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The Lottery

by Tod Massa 14. October 2016 22:30

The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green. The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o'clock; in some towns there were so many people that the lottery took two days and had to be started on June 2th. but in this village, where there were only about three hundred people, the whole lottery took less than two hours, so it could begin at ten o'clock in the morning and still be through in time to allow the villagers to get home for noon dinner. 

Shirley Jackson, "The Lottery"

Did you see this Dylan Matthews article in Vox, "What the lottery can tell us about college affordability?"  After studying a million lottery winners, with access to SSNs of children of winners and their college attendance information from the 1098-Ts submitted to the IRS, NBER researchers found that college attendance only increased noticeably for winners of $300,000 to $1,000,000 (5-6% increase). For winners of larger sums, there was about a 10% increase in college-going.

Basically, they’re saying this result implies that financial obstacles aren’t really what’s keeping people away from college. If they were, then you’d expect to see much, much bigger effects here. But the results instead suggest that families not currently sending kids to college aren’t doing so because they can’t afford it but rather because they don’t want to, it’s impractical for whatever reason, etc.

In comparing the characteristics of the panel of lottery winners, the researchers found a great deal of similarity. They do note that college attendance of lottery winners is about 3% less than that of non-players. Researchers were also able to match to Title IV records and observe student-level financial aid outcomes related to the timing of the lottery win. Basically, there's a lot in this paper to consider. Give it a read when you have some time. The link to actual paper is in the article.





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