nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2006‒06‒24
four papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Universidade da Beira Interior

  1. Do Peers Affect Student Achievement in China%u2019s Secondary Schools? By Weili Ding; Steven F. Lehrer
  2. Social Disadvantage and Education Experiences By Stephen Machin
  3. The Impact of Poor Health on Education: New Evidence Using Genetic Markers By Weili Ding; Steven F. Lehrer; J. Niels Rosenquist; Janet Audrain-McGovern
  4. Learning By Teaching By Steven Sass; Francis Vitagliano; Luke Delorme

  1. By: Weili Ding; Steven F. Lehrer
    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 firmly establishes a 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.
    JEL: I2 Z13 P36
    Date: 2006–06
  2. By: Stephen Machin
    Abstract: This paper discusses how social disadvantage affects the learning experiences of households with fewer economic resources, at each stage of the individuals' life-course, and on some of the "social" effects of such learning. It argues that while education can be an escalator out of social disadvantage — leading to better job prospects for youths facing greater risks of poverty and reducing the prevalence of income poverty in adult age — educational failure can reinforce it: a significant minority of students in several OECD countries do not even complete compulsory education; students' test scores in lower secondary education are strongly shaped by family characteristics; and the expansion of university education has most often benefited households with better educated parents. Far from "equalising" opportunities, education can be a powerful driver of social selection. When returns to education increase over time, this may lead to greater inter-generational persistence of poverty and less equality of opportunities. Ce document présente une analyse de la relation entre désavantage social et parcours éducatifs des individus issus d’un milieu familial défavorisé à chaque étape de leur vie, et décrit certaines des conséquences de ces parcours pour la société dans son ensemble. Une conclusion générale est que si la formation peut servir d’ascenseur social –– en offrant de meilleures perspectives d’emploi aux jeunes les plus menacés de dénuement et en réduisant la prévalence de la pauvreté économique à l’âge adulte –– l’échec scolaire peut en revanche renforcer le désavantage social : dans plusieurs pays de l’OCDE, une minorité importante d’élèves n’arrive même pas au terme de l’enseignement obligatoire ; dans le premier cycle du secondaire, les résultats des élèves aux tests dépendent beaucoup des caractéristiques de la famille ; et le développement des études universitaires a le plus souvent profité aux ménages dont les parents étaient relativement mieux instruits. Loin d’ « égaliser » les chances, l’éducation peut être un puissant moteur de sélection sociale. Dans un contexte où le rendement de la formation augmente avec le temps, cette dynamique pourrait conduire à une persistance de la pauvreté de génération en génération plus accentuée ainsi qu'une diminution de l’égalité des chances.
    JEL: I21 I28 I38
    Date: 2006–02–17
  3. By: Weili Ding; Steven F. Lehrer; J. Niels Rosenquist; Janet Audrain-McGovern
    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.
    JEL: I2 I1
    Date: 2006–06
  4. By: Steven Sass (Center for Retirement Research); Francis Vitagliano (Center for Retirement Research); Luke Delorme (Center for Retirement Research)
    Abstract: A wise old colleague once quipped that the teacher is the only one who ever learns anything in a classroom. We hope this isn’t so with the retirement-education game we recently developed. That is, we hope those who play the game actually learn something. But the punch line of the quip certainly turned out to be true. We were surprised to find how much we learned about the retirement planning process in putting the game together. The game — Get Rich Slow — is not a financial planning tool. It’s an educational program designed for married women, who have unique retirement income problems. Such women generally live longer than their husbands, have smaller Social Security and employer pension benefits, and are rarely comfortable making financial decisions. Our objective is to give women an overview of the retirement planning process and the challenges they face, and the confidence and motivation needed to become actively engaged in retirement planning. Get Rich Slow is designed to be played in a group setting with an experienced moderator, which reduces defensiveness and opens participants to new ideas and perspectives. In the game, the group meets a fictional couple — Sally and her husband Norm — when Sally is 45. They meet them again at 55, at retirement (either 62 or 64), 75, and 85. The group makes decisions for Sally and Norm at the first four ages and experiences the implications of its decisions — and chance events like stock market booms and busts, job loss, and health shocks — at the subsequent age. The primary chance event is a spin of “the wheel of fortune,” which results in Sally and Norm experiencing the investment outcomes of one of seven historical decades, from the 1930s to the 1990s.
    Keywords: get rich slow, retirement savings, pensions, 401(k) plans
    Date: 2006–06–12

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