Areas of Expertise & Civic Involvements
Webber is a labor economist whose research focuses on the economics of higher education, including student loan policy, higher ed financing, and the return to different college majors, as well as and labor market mobility. In 2015 he testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions about specific policies to reform the federal student loan system.
Evaluates the financial proposition of going to college taking into account many factors often ignored, such as the high probability one will not actually graduate. College is a good financial investment even under various pessimistic assumptions, but may not pay off financially until later in life depending on factors such as major and type of institution attended.
Estimates the financial return to college for students with a poor academic track record. We find very large returns for these students, implying that a common argument against increasing college access does not hold.
Estimates the amount of the gender pay gap which is due to factors which constrain an individual’s job mobility.
Examines the lifetime economic return to different majors, and how each major premia has changed over time.
Examines the impact of various types of college spending on student outcomes. Student service expenditures are found to increase graduation rates among lower achieving students, while instructional expenditures are associated with improved outcomes for high achievers.