nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2005‒12‒20
eleven papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Universidade da Beira Interior

  1. Improving the Performance of the Education Sector: The Valuable, Challenging, and Limited Role of Random Assignment Evaluations By Richard J. Murnane; Richard R. Nelson
  3. Efficiency Potential and Efficiency Variation in Norwegian Lower Secondary Schools By Lars-Erik Borge; Linn Renée Naper
  4. Tax Effects, Search Unemployment, and the Choice of Educational Type By Annette Alstadsæter; Ann-Sofie Kolm; Birthe Larsen
  5. How Changes in Entry Requirements Alter the Teacher Workforce and Affect Student Achievement By Donald Boyd; Pamela Grossman; Hamilton Lankford; Susanna Loeb; James Wyckoff
  6. Does Immigration Affect the Long-Term Educational Outcomes of Natives? Quasi-Experimental Evidence By Eric D. Gould; Victor Lavy; M. Daniele Paserman
  7. Do Institutions of Direct Democracy Tame the Leviathan? Swiss Evidence on the Structure of Expenditure for Public Education By Justina A.V. Fischer
  8. The Impact of Parental Income and Education on the Health of their Children By Doyle, Orla; Harmon, Colm; Walker, Ian
  9. Stability or change in the Swedish Labour Market Regime? By Olofsson, Jonas
  10. Social Capital, Public Spending and the Quality of Economic Development. The Case of Italy By Fabio Sabatini
  11. Do Former College Athletes Earn More at Work? A Nonparametric Assessment By Daniel J. Henderson; Alexandre Olbrecht; Solomon Polachek

  1. By: Richard J. Murnane; Richard R. Nelson
    Abstract: In an attempt to improve the quality of educational research, the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has provided funding for 65 randomized controlled trials of educational interventions. We argue that this research methodology is more effective in providing guidance to extremely troubled schools about how to make some progress than guidance to schools trying to move from making some progress to becoming high performance organizations. We also argue that the conventional view of medical research -- discoveries made in specialized laboratories that are then tested using randomized control trials -- is an inaccurate description of the sources of advances in medical practice. Moreover, this conventional view of the sources of advances in medical practice leads to incorrect inferences about how to improve educational research. We illustrate this argument using evidence from the history of medical research on the treatment of cystic fibrosis.
    JEL: I21
    Date: 2005–12
  2. By: John W. Miller (Central Connecticut State University, Office of the President); Mark Skidmore (Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin - Whitewater)
    Abstract: In this paper data from all 50 U.S. states are used to examine factors associated with the level of educational attainment in the population. Specifically, this inquiry examines the relationship between the percentage of the adult population aged 25-39 with a college bachelors degree or more and sets of variables logically grouped under one of two categories : production of degree holders and net migration of degree holders. It was hypothesized that the production of college degree holders is related to factors such as the quality of the K-12 educational system, the quality of the higher education system, and homogeneity of the population. Factors related to net migration of college degree holders include measures of the vibrancy of the economy, quality of life, and relative tax burdens. Analysis demonstrated that nearly all of the variation across the states in the percentage of degree holders in the population can be explained by these factors. These findings are useful to both policymakers and education administrators across the states as they seek to understand needs and set the direction of higher education systems.
    Date: 2005–10
  3. By: Lars-Erik Borge; Linn Renée Naper
    Abstract: The paper performs an efficiency analysis of the lower secondary school sector in Norway. The efficiency potential is calculated to 14 percent based on a DEA analysis with grades in core subjects (adjusted for student characteristics and family background) as outputs. The analysis of the determinants of efficiency indicates that a high level of municipal revenue, a high degree of party fragmentation, and a high share of socialists in the local council are associated with low educational efficiency. The negative effects of the share of socialists and party fragmentation seem to reflect both higher resource use and lower student performance.
    Keywords: educational efficiency, DEA analysis, determinants of efficiency, political and budgetary institutions
    JEL: I21
    Date: 2005
  4. By: Annette Alstadsæter; Ann-Sofie Kolm; Birthe Larsen
    Abstract: This paper examines the effect of taxes on the individuals’ choices of educational direction, and thus on the economy’s skill composition. A proportional labour income tax induces too many workers with high innate ability to choose an educational type with high consumption value and low effort costs. This increases the skill mismatch and aggregate unemployment in the economy. The government can correct for this distortion by use of differentiated tuition fees or tax rates.
    Keywords: unemployment, matching, education, optimal taxation, tuition fees
    JEL: H21 H24 J64 J68
    Date: 2005
  5. By: Donald Boyd; Pamela Grossman; Hamilton Lankford; Susanna Loeb; James Wyckoff
    Abstract: We are in the midst of what amounts to a national experiment in how best to attract, prepare, and retain teachers, particularly for high poverty urban schools. Using data on students and teachers in grades three through eight, this study assesses the effects of pathways into teaching in New York City on the teacher workforce and on student achievement. We ask whether teachers who enter through new routes, with reduced coursework prior to teaching, are more or less effective at improving student achievement than other teachers and whether the presence of these alternative pathways affects the composition of the teaching workforce. Results indicate that in some instances the new routes provide teachers with higher student achievement gains than temporary license teachers, though more typically there is no difference. When compared to teachers who completed a university-based teacher education program, teachers with reduced course work prior to entry often provide smaller initial gains in both mathematics and English language arts. Most differences disappear as the cohort matures and many of the differences are not large in magnitude, typically 2 to 5 percent of a standard deviation. The variation in effectiveness within pathways is far greater than the average differences between pathways.
    JEL: I0 I2
    Date: 2005–12
  6. By: Eric D. Gould (Hebrew University CEPR and IZA Bonn); Victor Lavy (Hebrew University CEPR and NBER); M. Daniele Paserman (Hebrew University CEPR and IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: This paper uses the mass migration wave to Israel in the 1990s to examine the impact of immigrant concentration during elementary school on the long-term academic outcomes of native students in high school. To identify the causal effect of immigrant children on their native peers, the empirical strategy must address two sources of bias: the endogenous sorting of immigrants across schools, and the endogenous grade placement of immigrants within schools. We control for the endogeneity of immigrant placement across schools by conditioning on the total number of immigrants in a school and exploit random variation in the number of immigrants across grades within the same school. To address the endogenous grade placement of immigrants within schools, we use the immigrants’ dates of birth as an instrument for their actual grade placement. The results suggest that the overall presence of immigrants in a grade had a significant and large adverse effect on two important outcomes for Israeli natives: the dropout rate and the chances of passing the high school matriculation exam which is necessary to attend college.
    Keywords: school quality, natural experiment, peer effects, dropout rates, immigrant absorption
    JEL: I20 J24
    Date: 2005–12
  7. By: Justina A.V. Fischer
    Abstract: The deleterious impact of institutions of direct legislation on student performance found in studies for both the U.S. and Switzerland has raised the question of what its transmission channels are. For the U.S., an increase in the ratio of administrative to instructional spending and larger class sizes were observed, supporting the hypothesis of a Leviathan-like school administration. For Switzerland, using a cross-sectional time-series panel of sub-federal school expenditure and size of classes, no such effect is detected. This finding is in line with previous analyses in which efficiency gains in the provision of public goods for Switzerland have been found.
    Keywords: direct democracy, median voter, bureaucracy, public education
    JEL: H41 H72 I22
    Date: 2005
  8. By: Doyle, Orla; Harmon, Colm; Walker, Ian
    Abstract: This paper investigates the robustness of recent findings on the effect of parental background on child health. We are particularly concerned with the extent to which their finding that income effects on child health are the result of spurious correlation rather than some causal mechanism. A similar argument can be made for the effect of education - if parental education and child health are correlated with some common unobservable (say, low parental time preference) then least squares estimates of the effect of parental education will be biased upwards. Moreover, it is very common for parental income data to be grouped, in which case income is measured with error and the coefficient on income will be biased towards zero and there are good reasons why the extent of bias may vary with child age. Fixed effect estimation is undermined by measurement error and here we adopt the traditional solution to both spurious correlation and measurement error and use an instrumental variables approach. Our results suggest that the income effects observed in the data are spurious.
    Keywords: child health; intergenerational transmission
    JEL: I1
    Date: 2005–11
  9. By: Olofsson, Jonas (Uppsala University)
    Abstract: From the late 1970s to the early 1990s Sweden diverted from the rest of Western Europe. The employment rate was high and unemployment was kept very low. But in the early 1990s unemployment started to rise also in Sweden. <p> In this paper the worsened situation for low educated in general, and youth in particular, are related to two institutional factors: a changed organisation of vocational education in upper secondary schooling and changes in labour market policy, where changes in vocational education is understood as a cause and changes in labour market policy as an effect of rising obstacles for low educated. Of course, there are several other factors that have to be considered in order to get the full picture, but reforms in the upper secondary school system as well as in labour market policy are of great interest as they can be apprehended as parts of broader changes in the traditional Swedish labour market model. Studies of changes in the Swedish model can also be seen as part of a wider research interest concerning the effectiveness of competing institutional models of capitalism. <p> It’s argued that changes in schooling are an important factor behind increasing social marginalisation and income dispersion. The focus is primarily on the ages between 20 and 24. Changes in upper secondary schooling are also valued in connection to the supply of youth measures connected to labour market policy. Since the beginning of the 1990s, there has been a huge increase of participants in programs directed to youth. This is a direct effect of rising unemployment and increasing troubles for those with unfinished upper secondary education. But it’s also possible to trace changes in labour market policy to broader institutional transformations in the Swedish labour market model. These changes will first and foremost be analysed as an expression of stronger segmentation forces.
    Keywords: Swedish Labour Market; low educated; young adults
    JEL: J21 J23 J24 J62
    Date: 2005–12–12
  10. By: Fabio Sabatini (University of Rome La Sapienza, Department of Public Economics)
    Abstract: This paper carries out an empirical assessment of the relationship between social capital and the quality of economic development in Italy. The analysis draws on a dataset collected by the author including about two hundred variables representing different aspects of economic development and four “structural” dimensions of social capital. The quality of development is measured through human development and indicators of the state of health of urban ecosystems, public services, gender equality, and labour markets, while social capital is measured through synthetic indicators representing strong family ties, weak informal ties, voluntary organizations, and political participation. The quality of development exhibits a strong positive correlation with bridging weak ties and a negative correlation with strong family ties. Particularly, the analysis shows a strong correlation between informal ties and an indicator of “social well-being” (synthesizing gender equality, public services and labour markets) and between voluntary organizations and the state of health of urban ecosystems. Active political participation proves to be irrelevant in terms of development and well-being. Finally, the role of public spending for education, health care, welfare work, and the environment protection is analysed, revealing a scarce correlation both with social capital and development indicators.
    Keywords: Social capital, Social networks, Public spending, Economic development, Human development, Principal component analysis
    JEL: O15 O18 R11
    Date: 2005–12–11
  11. By: Daniel J. Henderson (State University of New York at Binghamton); Alexandre Olbrecht (Ramapo College of New Jersey at Mahwah); Solomon Polachek (State University of New York at Binghamton and IZA Bonn)
    Abstract: This paper investigates how students’ collegiate athletic participation affects their subsequent labor market success. It uses newly developed distributional tests to establish that the wage distribution of former college athletes is significantly different from non-athletes and that athletic participation is a significant determinant of wages. Additionally, by using newly developed techniques in nonparametric regression, it shows that on average former college athletes earn a wage premium. However, the premium is not uniform, but skewed so that more than half the athletes actually earn less than non-athletes. Further, the premium is not uniform across occupations. Athletes earn more in the fields of business, military, and manual labor, but surprisingly, athletes are more likely to become high school teachers, which pays a relatively lower wage to athletes. We conclude that nonpecuniary factors play an important role in occupational choice, at least for many former collegiate athletes.
    Keywords: nonparametric, generalized Kernel estimation, wage determination, earnings, sports economics, athletics
    JEL: C14 J10 J30 J40 L83
    Date: 2005–12

This nep-edu issue is ©2005 by Joao Carlos Correia Leitao. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.