nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2006‒03‒18
eleven papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Universidade da Beira Interior

  1. Simulating the Lisbon skills targets in WorldScan By Bas Jacobs
  2. Why should governments intervene in education, and how effective is education policy By Marc van der Steeg
  3. Skill Transferability, Regret and Mobility By Lex Borghans; Bart H.H. Golsteyn
  4. School choice : in the context of differentiation by ability and income By Saïd Hanchane; Mostafa Tarek
  5. Corruption Clubs: The Allocation of Public Expenditure and Economic Growth By P R Agénor; K C Neanidis
  6. The Persistence of Underdevelopment: Institutions, Human Capital, or Constituencies? By Raghuram G. Rajan; Luigi Zingales
  7. Is '3+2' Equal to 4? University Reform and Student Academic Performance in Italy By Massimiliano BRATTI; Chiara BROCCOLINI; Stefano STAFFOLANI
  8. Systematic Influences on Teaching Evaluations: The Case for Caution By M. Davies; J. Hirschberg; J. Lye; C. Johnston; I. McDonald
  9. Do Peers Affect Student Achievement in China's Secondary Schools? By Weili Ding; Steven Lehrer
  10. Class Size and Student Achievement: Experimental Estimates of Who Benefits and Who Loses from Reductions By Weili Ding; Steven Lehrer
  11. The Impact of Poor Health on Education: New Evidence Using Genetic Markers By Weili Ding; Steven Lehrer; J. Niles Rosenquist; Janet Audrain-McGovern

  1. By: Bas Jacobs
    Abstract: This paper explains the theoretical background, the analytical methods, calibrations, assumptions and computations of the skill inputs for the WorldScan analysis on the skills targets of the Lisbon agenda. The Lisbon skills targets are implemented in WorldScan using most recent theoretical and empirical research in human capital theory. In particular, a satellite model for WorldScan is developed which disaggregates high skilled labour in S&E and non-S&E workers, and low skilled labour in workers with primary education (or less), lower secondary education, and higher secondary levels of education. In addition, workers can acquire skills through on-the-job training. The quality of the workforce may also increase by a higher quality of initial education. Finally, a stylised cohort model is developed to capture the time-lag between changes in policies and the eventual impact on the labour force. In implementing the skills targets we take heterogeneity between various EU countries into account with respect to the following skill variables: initial average levels of education, the returns to education, graduation rates in upper-secondary education, participation in on-the-job training, and the graduation shares in S&E education.
    Keywords: human capital; training; education; literacy; labor markets; Lisbon agreement; general equilibrium modeling
    JEL: D50 H50 I20 J20 J30
    Date: 2005–12
  2. By: Marc van der Steeg
    Abstract: This paper reviews arguments for government interference in the education sector and discusses the effectiveness of commonly used policy instruments. There are both efficiency and equity reasons for government intervention. Particular attention is paid to education spillovers (an efficiency motive). The empirical literature shows that there is little reason to argue for additional policy efforts to correct for externalities. There is some promising evidence, however, for non-pecuniary spillovers in the form of crime reduction and health improvements. With regard to the effectiveness of policy instruments, the paper discusses studies with a (quasi-)experimental design so that the causal impact of the policy can be identified. Early childhood interventions appear to be more effective than interventions in later stages of the education cycle.
    Keywords: private and social returns to education; education and equity; education policy; controlled and social policy experiments
    JEL: I20 I28 H23 H52
    Date: 2005–07
  3. By: Lex Borghans (ROA, Maastricht University and IZA Bonn); Bart H.H. Golsteyn (ROA, Maastricht University)
    Abstract: After graduation many students start working in sectors not related to their field of study or participate in training targeted at work in other sectors. In this paper, we look at mobility immediately after graduation from the perspective that educational choices have been made when these pupils had little experience of the actual working life in these professions. We develop a model where students accumulate partially transferable human capital but also learn about their professional preferences at the university and during the first years in the labor market. As a consequence of this newly acquired insight, these young workers might realize that working in another occupational field would better fit their preferences, although they are better equipped to work in their own field. The empirical analysis reveals that if wages are 1% lower due to lower skill transferability, the probability that a graduate who regrets his choice actually switches decreases by 2.2 percentage points, while those who switch on average take 0.3 months additional education.
    Keywords: regret, mobility, skill transfer, training
    JEL: J24 J44 J62
    Date: 2006–03
  4. By: Saïd Hanchane (LEST - Laboratoire d'économie et de sociologie du travail - - [CNRS : UMR6123] - [Université de Provence - Aix-Marseille I][Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II] - []); Mostafa Tarek (LEST - Laboratoire d'économie et de sociologie du travail - - [CNRS : UMR6123] - [Université de Provence - Aix-Marseille I][Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II] - [])
    Abstract: In this paper, we analyze the equilibrium on the market for schooling where both public and private schools coexist and where individuals are differentiated by income and ability. We study the distribution of students across sectors while examining the conditions for the existence of a majority voting equilibrium in the context of non single peaked preferences. Finally, we examine the existence of a hierarchy of school qualities, as a consequence of the discriminating pricing strategy used by private schools to internalize the effect of peer groups.
    Keywords: Education market; Majority voting equilibrium; Peer group effect; Pricing discrimination; Educational opportunity
    Date: 2006–03–09
  5. By: P R Agénor; K C Neanidis
    Abstract: This paper studies the optimal allocation of government spending between health, education, and infrastructure in an endogenous growth framework. In the model, infrastructure a?ects not only the production of goods but also the supply of health and education services. The production of health (education) services depends also on the stock of educated labor (health spending). Transitional dynamics associated with budget-neutral shifts in the composition of expenditure are analyzed, and growth- and welfare-maximizing allocation rules are derived and compared. The discussion highlights the key role played by the parameters that characterize the health and education technologies.
    Date: 2006
  6. By: Raghuram G. Rajan; Luigi Zingales
    Abstract: Why is underdevelopment so persistent? One explanation is that poor countries do not have institutions that can support growth. Because institutions (both good and bad) are persistent, underdevelopment is persistent. An alternative view is that underdevelopment comes from poor education. Neither explanation is fully satisfactory, the first because it does not explain why poor economic institutions persist even in fairly democratic but poor societies, and the second because it does not explain why poor education is so persistent. This paper tries to reconcile these two views by arguing that the underlying cause of underdevelopment is the initial distribution of factor endowments. Under certain circumstances, this leads to self-interested constituencies that, in equilibrium, perpetuate the status quo. In other words, poor education policy might well be the proximate cause of underdevelopment, but the deeper (and more long lasting cause) are the initial conditions (like the initial distribution of education) that determine political constituencies, their power, and their incentives. Though the initial conditions may well be a legacy of the colonial past, and may well create a perverse political equilibrium of stagnation, persistence does not require the presence of coercive political institutions. We present some suggestive empirical evidence. On the one hand, such an analysis offers hope that the destiny of societies is not preordained by the institutions they inherited through historical accident. On the other hand, it suggests we need to understand better how to alter factor endowments when societies may not have the internal will to do so.
    JEL: O1 O15 P5 I2 K0
    Date: 2006–03
  7. By: Massimiliano BRATTI; Chiara BROCCOLINI; Stefano STAFFOLANI (Universita' Politecnica delle Marche, Dipartimento di Economia)
    Abstract: In 2001 a '3+2' (unitary two-tier) university system was introduced in Italy where a 3-year First Level degree followed by a 2-year Second Level degree replaced a one-tier system where the 'old' degree (Laurea) duration varied between a minimum of four (e.g. economics) and a maximum of six years. In this paper we use individual-level data on graduates from the Economics Faculty of the Marche Polytechnic University to investigate some effects of this reform. In particular, we seek an answer to questions such as: Did the reform induce a change in the behaviour of students and higher education institutions (e.g. course workload, grade inflation, etc.)? Did it produce a change in student academic performance (e.g. student progression, grades)? Although our paper features a case study and evidence from the Marche Polytechnic University, it cannot be straightforwardly generalised to the whole Italian University system. Our analysis is nonetheless informative given the general lack of evaluation of the '3+2' Italian university reform using micro-level data.
    Keywords: italy, propensity score matching, reform, university
    JEL: C14 I21
    Date: 2006–02
  8. By: M. Davies; J. Hirschberg; J. Lye; C. Johnston; I. McDonald
    Abstract: The evaluation of teaching and learning has become an important activity in tertiary education institutions. Student surveys provide information about student perceptions and judgments of a particular subject. However, as is widely recognised, the appropriate interpretation of this data is problematic. There is a large literature, mainly for the US, on the use and usefulness of student subject evaluations. This literature has highlighted a number of ‘mitigating factors’ such as subject difficulty, discipline area, etc., that should be taken into account in interpreting the results of these questionnaires. In this paper we examine 8 years of QOT responses from an Economics Department in an Australian University which accounted for more than 79,000 student subject enrolments in 565 subjects. The purpose of this analysis is to establish how the information contained in these data can be used to interpret the responses. In particular, we determine to what extent other factors besides the instructor in charge of the subject have an impact on the raw average student evaluation scores. We find that the following characteristics of the students in these classes had an influence on the average QOT score: year level, enrolment size, the quantitative nature of the subject, the country of origin of the students, the proportion that are female, Honours status of the student, the differential in their mark from previous marks, quality of workbook, quality of textbook and the relative QOT score versus other subjects taught at the same time. However, a number of other factors proposed in the literature to be important influences were found not to be. These include the student’s fee paying status, whether they attended a public, private or catholic secondary school, which other faculty within the University they came from, and if the subject was taught in multiple sessions.
    Date: 2005
  9. By: Weili Ding (Queen's University); Steven Lehrer (Queen's University)
    Abstract: Peer effects have figured prominently in debates on school vouchers, desegregation, ability tracking and anti-poverty programs. Compelling evidence of their existence remains scarce for plaguing endogeneity issues such as selection bias and the reflection problem. This paper is among the first to firmly establish the link between peer performance and student achievement, using a unique dataset from China. We find strong evidence that peer effects exist and operate in a positive and nonlinear manner; reducing the variation of peer performance increases achievement; and our semi-parametric estimates clarify the tradeoffs facing policymakers in exploiting positive peers effects to increase future achievement.
    Keywords: Peer Effects, Ability Grouping, Selection on observables, China, Academic performance, Teacher quality
    JEL: I2 Z13 P36
    Date: 2005–02
  10. By: Weili Ding (Queen's University); Steven Lehrer (Queen's University)
    Abstract: Class size proponents draw heavily on the results from Project STAR to support their initiatives. Adding to the political appeal of these initiative are reports that minority and economic disadvantaged students receive the largest benefits. To explore and truly understand the heterogeneous impacts of class size and student achievement requires more flexible estimation approaches. We consider several semi and nonparametric strategies and find strong evidence that i) higher ability students gain the most from class size reductions while many low ability students do not benefit from these reductions, ii) there are no significant benefits in reducing class size from 22 to 15 students in any subject area, iii) no additional benefits from class size reductions for minority or disadvantaged students, iv) significant heterogeneity in the effectiveness of class size reductions across schools and in parental and school behavioural responses.
    Keywords: Class size, Academic performance, Project STAR, Economic disadvantaged students, Minority students
    JEL: I2
    Date: 2005–09
  11. By: Weili Ding (Queen's University); Steven Lehrer (Queen's University); J. Niles Rosenquist (University of Pennsylvania); Janet Audrain-McGovern (University of Pennsylvania)
    Abstract: This paper examines the influence of health conditions on academic performance during adolescence. To account for the endogeneity of health outcomes and their interactions with risky behaviors we exploit natural variation within a set of genetic markers across individuals. We present strong evidence that these genetic markers serve as valid instruments with good statistical properties for ADHD, depression and obesity. They help to reveal a new dynamism from poor health to lower academic achievement with substantial heterogeneity in their impacts across genders. Our investigation further exposes the considerable challenges in identifying health impacts due to the prevalence of comorbid health conditions and endogenous health behaviors.
    Keywords: health, education, genetic predisposition, obesity, ADHD, depression, instrumental variables, risky health behaviors
    JEL: I1 I2 C21
    Date: 2006–01

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