Higher education expansion and women’s access to higher education and the labor market: quasi-experimental evidence from Turkey


Higher Education, 2023 (SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s10734-023-01122-9
  • Journal Name: Higher Education
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, ABI/INFORM, EBSCO Education Source, Education Abstracts, Educational research abstracts (ERA), ERIC (Education Resources Information Center), MLA - Modern Language Association Database, PAIS International, Public Affairs Index
  • Keywords: Education attainment, Education expansion, Gender, Higher education, Labor market participation, Program effect, Turkey
  • TED University Affiliated: No


We study the 1992 higher education expansion reform in Turkey and examine how the expansion program changed higher education attainment and labor market access, particularly for women, who are disadvantaged on both accounts. We use the 2011 Population and Housing Census and employ a difference-in-differences estimation strategy. We find that the establishment of universities in localities where universities did not exist before increases the higher education attainment of women by 12–13% and their labor force participation by 4%. In contrast, we do not find a program effect for men for either of the two outcomes. That the program did not affect high school graduation suggests that the improvement for women stems from the change in the behavior of the same pool of high school graduates due to reduced monetary and psychic costs. The absence of a program effect for men further suggests that the reduction in schooling costs was not high enough to overcome the lower benefit of having to attend a less reputable local university. As a result of the expansion policy, the gender gap in higher education attainment and labor force participation shrinks. A battery of robustness checks that include an IV estimation supports our findings.