High school students who receive merit scholarships toward their college education are more likely to go on to receive a baccalaureate, according to a recently published economist’s report.

The study, which was conducted by a Harvard University professor, was based on data from the 2000 census and focused on publicly financed scholarship programs in Arkansas and Georgia. There are currently 13 states with programs that offer broad-based merit aid to their residents. The study found that students who complete a scholarship program based on their academic record are more likely — by three percentage points — to eventually earn an associate or bachelor’s college degree than their peers who do not receive a merit-based scholarship.

Susan Dunarski, a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government who conducted the study, also found that the college completion rates of women who received merit-based scholarships increased by 3.16 percentage points, a significantly higher rate than that of their male counterparts, which increased by 1.58 percentage points.

Dunarski said the difference between each sex’s graduation rate may be because women on average perform better academically in high school, or because there are more jobs that do not require college degrees available to men.

Cesar Storlazzi, Yale’s director of Student Financial Services and chief financial aid officer, said Dunarski’s study is not relevant to Yale’s undergraduate body or the University’s financial aid program.

“We certainly do not award aid based on any other criteria besides need,” he said.