CSU Fullerton
800 N. State College Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831-3599

Curriculum Vitae

Nick Huntington-Klein

Assistant Professor of Economics at CSU Fullerton
Ph.D. in Economics at the University of Washington, 2015

Contact at
SGMH 3391

This page updated April 4, 2018

My name is Nick Huntington-Klein. I am an Assistant Professor in the Economics Department at California State University Fullerton with primary research interests in the economics of education, labor economics, and applied economics, with additional interests in behavioral economics, game theory, and uncertainty. My current research projects are listed below.

Curriculum Vitae
Good Books for Economists
My YouTube Channel (Stata tips, Principles of Micro lectures)


Principles of Microeconomics, Principles of Macroeconomics, Behavioral Economics, Current Research in Economics (Graduate Methods), Economics of the Education System
Check out my straightforward and concrete supplemental Principles of Micro book, A Step-by-Step Guide to the Principles of Microeconomics from Kona Publishing!

Journal Publications:

Huntington-Klein, Nick and Elaina Rose (Forthcoming). Peer Effects in a Predominantly Male Environment: Evidence from West Point. AEA Papers and Proceedings. Working Paper PDF.

Abstract: The last several decades have seen a dramatic increase in the representation of women in traditionally male professions (e.g. Goldin 2014). Growth has been slower among Science/Technology/Engineering/Math (STEM) fields and military officers. Economists have paid much attention to the former, far less to the latter. Explanations include (Bertrand et al. 2010). The literature on female performance in these areas is wide, but many descriptive studies support to some degree the commonly held belief that women with women peers and mentors are more likely to enter and persist in male-advantaged environments (e.g. Drury et al. 2011; Flabbi et al. 2012; Kunze & Miller 2014). These studies are limited, as standard issues with peer and mentor effects studies apply, including the endogenous selection of group. This paper follows previous work recognizing that random assignment of cadets (students) to companies and classes at military academies can help inform our understanding of interactions in broader contexts (Lyle 2007; Carrell et al. 2008). We extend Lyle's (2007) work by estimating gender-specific peer and mentor effects and focus on retention of women at West Point in the first years in which women were admitted. We find that women do significantly better when placed in companies with more women peers. The addition of one woman peer is predicted to reduce the gender progression gap by half. We see no effect of peer gender on the retention of men.

Huntington-Klein, Nick and Elizabeth Ackert (Forthcoming). The Long Road to Equality: A Meta-Regression Analysis of Changes in the Black Test Score Gap over Time. Social Science Quarterly.
Link. Working Paper PDF. Online Appendices.

Abstract: This study performs a meta-regression analysis of over 1,100 regressions in 165 studies to examine the relationship between African American racial status and student achievement scores in K-12 education from 1979 to 2010. The study examines time trends in the black test score gap and estimates the extent to which controls for confounding variables including socioeconomic status and schooling characteristics attenuate the size of the gap. Across the samples in the study, the absolute relationship between Black status and achievement decreased during the 1980s and early 1990s, but has been stagnant since the late 1990s. We estimate that socioeconomic status alone explains more than half of the gap, and this influence does not vary significantly over the time period of interest. Controlling for differences in school characteristics only reduces the gap slightly, but school-level factors explain an increasing proportion of the gap over time.

Huntington-Klein, Nick (2018). College Choice as a Collective Decision. Economic Inquiry. 56(2), p. 1202-1219.
Link. Working Paper PDF.

Abstract: Although the choice between colleges can be thought of as being made collectively by a family, models of educational choice almost universally portray the decision as made by the student alone. Using a novel experimental method for identifying collective decision functions, I find that students have more influence than parents over the decision, but not exclusive control. Students care more than parents about classroom experience and future earnings. Ignoring the dual-agent nature of the decision can weaken predictions and lead to poorly-targeted policy designs.

Goldhaber, Dan, Cyrus Grout, and Nick Huntington-Klein (2017). Screen Twice, Cut Once: Assessing the Predictive Validity of Applicant Selection Tools. Education Finance and Policy. 12(2), p. 197-223.

Despite their widespread use, there is little academic evidence on whether applicant selection tools can improve teacher-hiring processes. We examine two screening instruments used to select classroom teachers. The screening instruments strongly predict teacher value-added in math and teacher attrition and weakly predict value-added in reading, but do not predict teacher absences. An increase of one standard deviation in screening scores is associated with an increase of about 0.06 standard deviations of student math achievement and a decrease in teacher attrition of three percentage points. These results are robust to corrections for sample selection.

Huntington-Klein, Nick, James Cowan, and Dan Goldhaber (2017). Selection into Online Community College Courses and their Effects on Persistence. Research in Higher Education. 58(3), p. 244-269.

Abstract: Online courses at the college level are growing in popularity, and nearly all community colleges offer online courses (Allen & Seaman, 2015). What is the effect of the expanded availability of online curricula on persistence in the field and towards a degree? We use a model of self-selection to estimate the effect of taking an online course, using region and time variation in internet service as a source of identifying variation. Our method, as opposed to standard experimental methods, allows us to consider the effect among students who actually choose to take such courses. For the average person, taking an online course has a negative effect on the probability of taking another course in the same field and on the probability of earning a degree. The negative effect on graduation for for students who choose to take an online course is stronger than the negative effect for the average student. Community colleges must balance these results against the attractive features of online courses, and may want to consider actively targeting online courses towards those most likely to do well in them.

Huntington-Klein, Nick (2017). A Method for Estimating Local Average Treatment Effects in Aggregate Data with Imperfect Assignment. Applied Economics Letters. 24(11), p. 762-765.

Abstract: In some contexts, the effect of a treatment can be estimated with easily-accessible aggregate rather than individual data, using difference-in-difference estimation. However, under imperfect assignment this produces intent-to-treat estimates, which may not be the treatment effect of interest. This paper provides a method for estimating local average treatment effects using aggregate data. I also suggest a data source that allows the method to be applied when treatment rates are not recorded.

Huntington-Klein, Nick (2016). "(Un)informed College and Major Choice": Verification in an Alternate Setting. Economics of Education Review (53), p. 159-163.

Abstract: In their recent paper "(Un)informed College and Major Choice: Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data," Hastings, Neilson, Ramirez, & Zimmerman (2016) provide an informal costly-information model, linking family background to students’ beliefs about educational costs and benefits. They verify predictions of their model using a data set of beliefs about college institutions and majors among Chilean college applicants and students. I test some of those same predictions using a data set of beliefs about college institutions and different levels of college education among high school students in the United States. I verify their predictions, with some exceptions, supporting the use of their costly-search model.

Long, Mark C., Dan Goldhaber, and Nick Huntington-Klein (2015). Do Students' College Majors Respond to Changes in Wages? Economics of Education Review (49), p. 1-14.

Abstract: In an analysis connecting labor market earnings to college major choices, we find statistically significant relationships between changes in wages by occupation and subsequent changes in college majors completed in related fields of college study between 1982 and 2012. College majors (defined at a detailed level) are most strongly related to wages observed three years earlier, when students were college freshmen. The responses to wages vary depending on the extent to which there is a strong mapping of majors into particular occupations. We also find that women, blacks, Hispanics, and students with low test scores are less likely to respond to wage changes. These findings have implications for policy interventions designed to align students’ major choices with labor market demand.

Huntington-Klein, Nick (2015). Subjective and Projected Returns to Education. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (117). p. 10-25.
Link. Recipient of 2013 Storer Award for Labor Economics.

Abstract: There is significant heterogeneity over high school students in the wage and employment rate returns to education. I evaluate this heterogeneity using subjective returns derived from a data set of high school juniors and seniors in Washington State. Variation over observables in projected returns estimated using observed data is uncorrelated with variation in subjective returns elicited by directly asking students about their beliefs. These results mean that returns estimated using observed data are likely a very weak proxy for student beliefs.

Working Papers:

Please email me at for working PDFs if not linked.

Student Preference for Guidance and Complexity in College Major Requirements with Rachel Baker (2018). CEPA Working Paper 04/2018, CSUD Department of Economics Working Paper 2018/005. Link.

Abstract: In order to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, students must determine which classes they must take in order to satisfy the requirements of their major. These requirements are often complex and difficult to comprehend, leading to some policy interventions that aim to reduce complexity by either increasing the amount of student guidance in course choice or by reducing the amount of complexity-increasing choice. We perform two student preference experiments on students at two large four-year universities to determine how students might respond to increasing guidance or reduced choice in their course-taking options. We find that students do not respond strongly to increases in guidance such as grouping courses into meaningful categories or removing cross-cutting requirements, but strongly reject a reduction in options, even when given a rationale for the reduction. These results suggest that increased-guidance policies have some avenues to operate in without student push-back, but that strong reductions in choice are unlikely to be popular.

Keeping an Eye Out: Behavior in the Presence of Riskless Ambiguity. (2018). CSUF Department of Economics Working Paper 2018/001. PDF.

Abstract: Past research on choice under ambiguity - decisions made when the probability of each outcome is unknown - has typically focused on scenarios in which ambiguity is presented alongside risks with known probabilities. Understanding the response to ambiguity is then difficult to distinguish from the response to risk, confounding our understanding of how subjects behave in conditions of ambiguity. In this paper I take advantage of the fact that all decisions are necessarily ambiguous to some extent to develop a scenario in which ambiguity is present but is otherwise risk-free. Respondents participate in a task that is very similar to a multi-armed bandit but with no random variation in payouts. I show that respondents anticipate ambiguity in payouts without prompting, continue to do so for long periods of time, respond differently to gains and losses in this context, and that this tendency is independent of risk preference. I offer a basic, clean framework for creating a riskless ambiguous environment for subjects, and argue that these exploratory results make the case for further study of ambiguity in riskless environments.

Diverging Prices Among Novel Goods with Alasdair Young (2017). CSUF Department of Economics Working Paper 2017/002. PDF.

Abstract: It is well-established that many markets exhibit price dispersion in equilibrium. However, relatively little attention is paid to how dispersion might be expected to change over time. The presiding assumption is that if dispersion is not already in equilibrium, it should naturally decrease over time. We develop a model in which shifts in demand combined with menu costs lead dispersion to naturally rise for some novel goods. We test the predictions of the model in the online market for collectible cards and find that price dispersion increases over time for more than half of the goods in the market.

The Search: The Effect of the College Scorecard on Interest in Colleges (2016). PDF.

Abstract: The College Scorecard is a website launched by the U.S. Department of Education in September 2015 that provides information about different colleges. This paper studies the effects of the website on interest in colleges, calculating both intent-to-treat and a local average treatment effect estimates of the effect of the College Scorecard. Interest is measured using Google search activity. The Scorecard led to more searches for keywords associated with high-earnings, high-graduation rate, and low-tuition colleges. However, the size of the effect is very small.

Most Likely to Succeed: Personality and Long-Run Economic Outcomes with Elaina Rose (2015).

Abstract: We estimate the effect of college seniors' personality traits on long-run career and economic outcomes. The analysis uses a novel data set that merges information from the 1980 - 1984 West Point yearbooks with detailed alumni records. Personality traits were inferred from peer-written narratives and faculty-conferred distinctions. The narratives were evaluated by West Point alumni from non-study classes and the multiple reports were aggregated using a Latent Class Model (LCM). We find that cadets identified by faculty as leaders, and those characterized by peers as leaders, determined, or social prove to be more successful in terms of military and civilian career outcomes 31-35 years after graduation.

College Curricular Dispersion: More Well Rounded or Less Well Trained? with Dan Goldhaber, Mark Long, and James Cowan (CEDR Working Paper 2015-6). PDF.

Students are typically given a large amount of freedom to choose the level of “curricular dispersion”: the tight focus or lack thereof in the courses they elect to take while in college.There is little evidence about what predicts students' curricular dispersion, whether it affects later college or labor force outcomes, or, in fact, how to measure of curricular dispersion. In this paper we develop a measure of curricular dispersion and use data from Washington State to explore its predictors and associated outcomes. We find that prior dispersion predicts future dispersion but not subsequent changes in college major. We report mixed findings on the associations between curricular dispersion and overall college GPA, the probability of graduation, and early career wages.

Consumption Value and the Demand for College Education (2015)

Abstract: I collect a novel data set that allows for a detailed measurement of the non-financial consumption value of college education. Using a discrete model of educational choice, I estimate student demand for college education as a function of expectations of future earnings and consumption value. Consumption value drives the educational plans of high school students more than does future earnings. Student responses to direct experiential utility and the avoidance of psychic costs are especially strong, but background and social encouragement are also important. Investment-focused economic models of educational choice focus on a relatively small part of the decision.

Are College-Bound Students Aware of What's "Promised" to Them? Evidence from Washington State with Grant H. Blume (2013). PDF.

Abstract: Students making decisions about their education must learn about the costs of attending a given college and the financial aid available to them. However, previous research demonstrates that students and parents have a poor understanding of the actual amount of aid available. Institutional promise scholarships, which advertise and ensure the availability of full tuition funding to low-income students, are an example of a policy designed to affect behavior largely by changing the information that students have about financial aid. We look for evidence that these policies relate to student information about financial aid. Using a data set of aid expectations from high school students in Washington State we find that low-income students expect more funding than their middle- and high-income peers, but that low-income students' expectations of aid do not fully incorporate all available information and are not sensitive to the presence of an institutional promise scholarship.

Things I'm Working On:

Student Employment and Summer Bunching of Hours

The Complexity of College Course Requirements with Rachel Baker.

Empirical Economics Replication Project with Andy Gill.

The Impact of Taking 12 or 15 Credits on Student Performance with Andy Gill.

The Influence of Earnings on Major Choice over Time with Elizabeth Ackert

The Development of a Woman-Friendly Culture: Evidence from West Point with Elaina Rose

Press Exposure:

Private colleges can partner to solve issues. The Edwardsville Intelligencer, May 8, 2017

Findings on Education Finance and Policy Discussed by Investigators at University of Washington. Education Letter, May 3 2017

The Value of a College Degree. The Inter-Mountain, April 27, 2017

Incentives to Attend Private Colleges Could Save States Money and Raise Graduation Rates The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 14, 2017

Hiring Successful Teachers—Two New Studies Point to What Works and What Doesn't EdSurge, October 3, 2016

CSUF researcher studies how stereotypes affect higher education decisions OC Register, May 12, 2016

How Will Your College Degree Pay Off? Mihaylo College Bizblog, January 4, 2016

Facing growing scrutiny, colleges set out to prove their value. The Hechinger Report, January 22, 2016.

Is Robert anti-teacher?. The Education Gadfly, November 5, 2014

Study: Teacher hiring should be more scientific. Associated Press, October 29, 2014