nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2007‒07‒07
sixteen papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
University of the Beira Interior

  1. Intergenerational Mobility and Schooling Decisions in Germany and Italy: The Impact of Secondary School Tracks By Daniele Checchi; Luca Flabbi
  2. Fundamental Determinants of School Efficiency and Equity: German States as a Microcosm for OECD Countries By Ludger Wößmann
  3. The Returns from Reducing Corruption: Evidence from Education in Uganda By Reinikka, Ritva; Svensson, Jakob
  4. On the optimal allocation of students when peer effect works: Tracking vs Mixing. By Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo
  5. From Separate and Unequal to Integrated and Equal? School Desegregation and School Finance in Louisiana By Sarah J. Reber
  6. School Desegregation and Educational Attainment for Blacks By Sarah J. Reber
  7. Teacher Shortages, Teacher Contracts and their Impact on Education in Africa By Jean Bourdon; Markus Frölich; Katharina Michaelowa
  8. Be as Careful of the Books You Read as of the Company You Keep: Evidence on Peer Effects in Educational Choices By Giacomo De Giorgi; Michele Pellizzari; Silvia Redaelli
  9. Age-Dependent Skill Formation and Returns to Education: Simulation Based Evidence By Friedhelm Pfeiffer; Karsten Reuß
  10. Access to Higher Education and Inequality: The Chinese Experiment By Xiaojun Wang; Belton M. Fleisher; Haizheng Li; Shi Li
  11. The convergence process of compulsory schooling in Western Europe: 1950-2000 By Fabrice Murtin; Martina Viarengo
  12. How Long Do Teacher Effects Persist? By Spyros Konstantopoulos
  13. Elite Dominance and Under-Investment in Mass Education: Disparity in the Social Development of the Indian States, 1960-92 By Sarmistha Pal; Sugata Ghosh
  14. Aprender a aprender. Un método valioso para la educación superior. By Fernández Montt, René; Wompner, Fredy
  15. Subjective Beliefs and Schooling Decisions By Christian Belzil
  16. Disparidades entre Educación Formal y Educación en el Puesto de Trabajo By Blázquez Cuesta, Maite; Ramos, Jose

  1. By: Daniele Checchi (University of Milan, CEPR and IZA); Luca Flabbi (Georgetown University, CHILD and IZA)
    Abstract: Intergenerational mobility in income and education is affected by the influence of parents on children’s school choices. Our focus is on the role played by different school systems in reducing or magnifying the impact of parents on children’s school choices and therefore on intergenerational mobility in general. We compare two apparently similar educational systems, Italy and Germany, to see how the common feature of separate tracks at Secondary School level may produce different impacts on children choices. Using data from a cross-country survey (PISA 2003), we study the impact of parental education on track choice, showing that the greater flexibility of the Italian system (where parents are free to choose the type of track) translates into greater dependence from parental background. These effects are reinforced when moving to post-secondary education, where the aspiration to go to college is affected not only by the school type but also (in the case of Italy only) by parental education. We then move to country-specific data sets (ISTAT 2001 for Italy and GSOEP 2001 and 2002 for Germany) to study the impact of family background on postsecondary school choices: we find this impact is greatly reduced when we control for secondary school tracks. Overall, we estimate large asymmetries by gender, with women’s behavior more independent from family backgrounds than men’s behavior.
    Keywords: secondary school tracks, education, intergenerational mobility
    JEL: I2 J1
    Date: 2007–06
  2. By: Ludger Wößmann (University of Munich, Ifo Institute, CESifo and IZA)
    Abstract: Cross-country evidence on student achievement might be hampered by omitted country characteristics such as language or legal differences. This paper uses cross-state variation in Germany, whose sixteen states share the same language and legal system, but pursue different education policies. The same results found previously across countries hold within Germany: Higher mean student performance is associated with central exams, private school operation, and socio-economic background, but not with spending, while higher equality of opportunity is associated with reduced tracking. In a model that pools German states with OECD countries, these fundamental determinants do not differ significantly between the two samples.
    Keywords: student performance, PISA, Germany, education production function, institutional effects in schooling
    JEL: I28 L38 L33 H52 D02 D63 J24
    Date: 2007–06
  3. By: Reinikka, Ritva; Svensson, Jakob
    Abstract: What is the most effective way to increase primary school enrolment and student learning? We argue that innovations in governance of social services may yield the highest return since social service delivery in developing countries is often plagued by inefficiencies and corruption. We examine this hypothesis by exploiting an unusual policy experiment: A newspaper campaign in Uganda aimed at reducing capture of public funds by providing schools (parents) with information to monitor local officials' handling of a large education grant program. Combining survey and administrative data, we show that the campaign was successful, and the reduction in capture of funds had a positive effect on enrolment and student learning.
    Keywords: Corruption; Education; Newspaper campaign
    JEL: D73 I22 O12
    Date: 2007–06
  4. By: Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo (Department of Economics, Universidad Pablo de Olavide)
    Abstract: The belief that the behaviour and outcomes of compulsory school students are affected by their peers has been important in shaping education policy. I analyze two polar education systems -tracking and mixing- and propose several criteria for their comparison. The system that maximizes average human capital, I find, depends crucially on the level of complementarity between peer effects and individuals' ability. I also find that when mean innate ability is much higher among the rich than among the poor, the system that best maximizes average human capital is mixing. However, there is no unanimity in the overall population so as to which system to choose.
    Keywords: Peer effects, Tracking, Mixing.
    JEL: D63 I28 J24
    Date: 2007–07
  5. By: Sarah J. Reber
    Abstract: An important goal of the desegregation of schools following the Supreme Court's decision in Brown vs. Board of Education was to improve the quality of the schools black children attended. This paper uses a new dataset to examine the effects of desegregation on public and private enrollment and the system of school finance for Louisiana. I show that the system of school finance in Louisiana had long favored whites in high black enrollment share districts. Because of this system, whites in districts with high black enrollment shares stood to lose the most from desegregation, as the gap between white student-teacher ratios and black student-teacher ratios in those districts was higher. Given the importance of districts' black enrollment share in the system of finance and the potential impact of desegregation, I examine how changes in public and private enrollment, the local property tax base, and per-pupil revenue relate to the initial black enrollment share. The analysis suggests that the Jim-Crow system of school finance -- which had prevailed for over 60 years -- unraveled as the schools desegregated. While desegregation did induce some "white flight" and reduce the local property tax base slightly, the policies had the intended effect of reducing black-white gaps in school resources, as increased funding allowed districts to "level up" average spending in integrated schools to that previously experienced only in the white schools.
    JEL: H71 H72 H75 I22
    Date: 2007–06
  6. By: Sarah J. Reber
    Abstract: The desegregation of Southern schools following the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown decision was perhaps the most important innovation in U.S. education policy in the 20th century. This paper assesses the effects of desegregation on its intended beneficiaries, black students. In Louisiana, substantial reductions in segregation between 1965 and 1970 were accompanied by large increases in per-pupil funding. This additional funding was used to "level up" school spending in integrated schools to the level previously experienced only in the white schools. The effects of desegregation on the educational experiences of black students differed substantially depending on the black share of enrollment in the district. For historical reasons, blacks in districts with higher black enrollment shares experienced larger increases in funding, compared to their counterparts in lower black enrollment share districts. On the other hand, blacks in high black enrollment share districts saw smaller increases in exposure to whites (who were higher-income). Blacks in high black enrollment share districts experienced larger improvements in educational attainment, suggesting that the increase in funding associated with desegregation was more important than the increased exposure to whites. A simple cost-benefit calculation suggests that the additional school spending was more than offset by higher earnings due to increased educational attainment. Using a different source of variation and methodology, the results of this paper are consistent with earlier work suggesting that desegregation improved educational attainment for blacks and sheds new light on the potential mechanism behind this improvement in Louisiana: increased funding for blacks' schools.
    JEL: I2 J18
    Date: 2007–06
  7. By: Jean Bourdon (IREDU, University of Bourgogne); Markus Frölich (SIAW, University of St. Gallen, IFAU Uppsala and IZA); Katharina Michaelowa (University of Zurich)
    Abstract: Primary school enrolment rates are very low in francophone Africa. In order to enhance education supply, many countries have launched large teacher recruitment programmes in recent years, whereby teachers are no longer engaged on civil servant positions, but on the basis of (fixed-term) contracts typically implying considerably lower salaries and a sharply reduced duration of professional training. While this policy has led to a boost of primary enrolment, there is a concern about a loss in the quality of education. In this paper we analyse the impact on educational quality, by estimating nonparametrically the quantile treatment effects for Niger, Togo and Mali, based on very informative data, comparable across these countries. We find that contract teachers do relatively better for low ability children in low grades than for high ability children in higher grades. When positive treatment effects were found, they tended to be more positive at the low to medium quantiles; when negative effects were found they tended to be more pronounced at the high ability quantiles. Hence, overall it seems that contract teachers do a relatively better job for teaching students with learning difficulties than for teaching the ‘more advanced’ children. This implies that contract teachers tend to reduce inequalities in student outcomes. At the same time, we also observe clear differences between the countries. We find that, overall, effects are positive in Mali, somewhat mixed in Togo (with positive effects in 2nd and negative effects in 5th grade) and negative in Niger. This ordering is consistent with theoretical expectations derived from a closer examination of the different ways of implementation of the contract teacher programme in the three countries. In Mali and, to some extent, in Togo, the contract teacher system works more through the local communities. This may have led to closer monitoring and more effective hiring of contract teachers. In Niger, the system was changed in a centralized way with all contract teachers being public employees, so that there is no reason to expect much impact on local monitoring. In addition, the extremely fat hiring of huge numbers of contract teachers may also have contributed to relatively poor performance in Niger. These results are expected to be relevant for other sub-Saharan African countries, too, as well as for the design of new contract teacher programmes in the future.
    Keywords: teacher incentives, quantile treatment effects, nonparametric estimation
    JEL: O15 I21 C14
    Date: 2007–06
  8. By: Giacomo De Giorgi (Stanford University); Michele Pellizzari (IGIER-Bocconi and IZA); Silvia Redaelli (Bocconi University)
    Abstract: In this paper we investigate whether peers’ behavior influences the choice of college major. Using a unique dataset of students at Bocconi University and exploiting the organization of teaching at this institution, we are able to identify the endogenous effect of peers on such decision through a novel identification strategy which solves the common econometric problems of studies of social interactions. Results show that, indeed, one is more likely to choose a major when many of her peers make the same choice. We estimate that, when it diverts students from majors in which they seem to have a relative ability advantage, this effect leads to lower average grades and graduation mark, a penalty that could cost up to 1,117 USD a year in the labor market.
    Keywords: peer effects, education, social interaction, reflection
    JEL: J0 I21
    Date: 2007–06
  9. By: Friedhelm Pfeiffer (ZEW Mannheim, University of Mannheim and IZA); Karsten Reuß (ZEW Mannheim)
    Abstract: This study integrates findings from neurobiology and psychology on early childhood development and self-regulation to assess returns to education. Our framework for evaluating the distribution of age-specific returns to investments in cognitive and noncognitive skills is a lifecycle simulation model based on the technology of skill formation (Cunha and Heckman (2007)). Our findings illustrate the cumulative and synergetic nature of skill formation, the skill multiplier, and the shaping role early childhood has for human capital formation, growth and inequality.
    Keywords: intelligence, self-regulation, human capital, returns to education, life span
    JEL: J21 J24 J31
    Date: 2007–06
  10. By: Xiaojun Wang (University of Hawaii at Manoa); Belton M. Fleisher (Ohio State University and IZA); Haizheng Li (Georgia Tech); Shi Li (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and IZA)
    Abstract: We apply a semi-parametric latent variable model to estimate selection and sorting effects on the evolution of private returns to schooling for college graduates during China’s reform between 1988 and 2002. We find that there were substantial sorting gains under the traditional system, but they have decreased drastically and become negligible in the most recent data. We take this as evidence of growing influence of private financial constraints on decisions to attend college as tuition costs have risen and the relative importance of government subsidies has declined. The main policy implication of our results is that labor and education reform without concomitant capital market reform and government support for the financially disadvantaged exacerbates increases in inequality inherent in elimination of the traditional "wage-grid".
    Keywords: return to schooling, selection bias, sorting gains, heterogeneity, financial constraints, comparative advantage, China
    JEL: J31 J24 O15
    Date: 2007–06
  11. By: Fabrice Murtin; Martina Viarengo
    Abstract: This paper examines the expansion of compulsory schooling in fifteen Western European countries over the period 1950-2000. We show that a convergence process of mandatory years of schooling has occurred across these countries since 1950. We argue that the major driver of this phenomenom is the existence of diminishing returns to education that limit the extension of compulsory schooling. Then we test whether convergence still holds when one controls for the major three alternative explanations described in the literature, which are respectively based on technology and trade, institutions, and the budget constraint of governments. Conditional convergence does hold and we find that openness, membership of the European Union, urbanization and illiteracy rates are other significant determinants of compulsory years of schooling over this period.
    Date: 2007
  12. By: Spyros Konstantopoulos (Northwestern University and IZA)
    Abstract: Previous findings from experimental and non-experimental studies have demonstrated that teachers differ in their effectiveness. In addition, evidence from non-experimental studies has indicated that teacher effects can last up to five years. This study used high-quality data from a four-year randomized experiment in which teachers and students were randomly assigned to classes to examine whether teacher effects on student achievement persist over time. Teacher effects are defined as teacher specific residuals adjusted for student and treatment effects. Findings indicate that the teacher effects are cumulative and observed not only in the current or the following grade, but they endure up to three years in early elementary grades. The findings also suggest that teacher effects are important and their additive effects on student achievement are as large as the additive effects of small classes. Finally, teacher effects are larger in reading than in mathematics.
    Keywords: teacher effects, experimental data, multi-level models
    JEL: I2
    Date: 2007–06
  13. By: Sarmistha Pal (Brunel University and IZA); Sugata Ghosh (Brunel University)
    Abstract: Inter- and intra-state disparities in levels of literacy rates in India are striking, especially for the marginalized groups of women and low caste population. The present paper offers an explanation of this disparate development in terms of elite dominance that discriminates against the minority groups of people and systematically under-invests in mass education. We experiment with various indirect economic and political measures of elite dominance. Results based on the Indian state-level data for the period 1960-92 suggest that higher share of land held by the top 5% of the population (a) lowers spending on education as well as total developmental spending and (b) increases total non-developmental spending. Greater proportion of minority representations (female and low caste members) in the ruling government however fails to have any perceptible impact on development (including education) spending in our sample. This analysis also identifies land reform and poverty alleviation as two important policy instruments to erode the initial disadvantage of the marginalised people.
    Keywords: under-investment in education, discrimination against female and low-caste population, persistence of elite dominance, poverty, land reform
    JEL: I28 J15 O15 P48
    Date: 2007–06
  14. By: Fernández Montt, René; Wompner, Fredy
    Abstract: The following work corresponds to a directed test to analyze a learning strategy that receives the great protagonism within the different theories that today are known, where the analysis discusses and displays problematic as far as the valuation of this type of learning and its applicability in superior education. The educational experience and the exigencies that the modern world to the educative system brings with himself are the main arguments that guarantee this type of learning. Nevertheless the lack of appropriate instruments of evaluation and the difficulty to generate a common strategy to everything a group of dicentes are the main critics to this strategy. The discussion still is not settled and the paradigm of "Learning to learn" is every greater time. What if can affirm with certain security it is that circumstances in which exist this method of learning it offers better results than the other well-known methods. It is in this context in which obtaining to identify clearly the circumstances that favor this strategy turns out to be most important from this analysis.
    JEL: I20
    Date: 2007–01
  15. By: Christian Belzil (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CIRANO, CIREQ and IZA)
    Abstract: This paper considers the estimation of sequential schooling decisions made by agents who are endowed with subjective beliefs about their own ability. I use unique Italian panel data which provide information on i) the curvature of the per-period utility function, ii) schooling decisions, iii) post-schooling earnings, in order to estimate the future component of the differences in intertemporal utilities of school and work independently from the present component, (as in Geweke and Keane, 1995, 2001), and evaluate the importance of "present bias". Under certain conditions, which include imposing equality between the modal belief and true ability, I recover individual specific subjective probability distributions. I estimate both the degree of confidence (a measure of spread) and the incidence of over (and under) estimation. I find that the future component of intertemporal utilities dominates schooling decisions. I find a strong incidence of under-estimation among the more able and a much smaller incidence of over-estimation among the low ability group. At the medium ability spectrum, there is evidence of some over-estimation. The degree of confidence is high and implies that agents have a substantial amount of inside information (36% of the population act on a degenerate subjective distribution). Overall, the variance of the objective ability heterogeneity distribution is 4 times as large the variance of the distribution characterizing subjective beliefs.
    Keywords: subjective distributions, expectation parameterization, rational expectation, schooling, dynamic programming, present bias, over-confidence
    JEL: J24
    Date: 2007–05
  16. By: Blázquez Cuesta, Maite (Departamento de Análisis Económico (Teoría e Historia Económica). Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.); Ramos, Jose (Universidad Europea de Madrid)
    Abstract: El presente trabajo pretende desagregar el capital humano en sus dos componentes principales: la educación formal en la escuela y la formación en el trabajo. Analizando el comportamiento de ambas formas de acumulación de capital humano por separado, se pretende conseguir un mejor conocimiento del comportamiento de los salarios en la economía española. La investigación viene motivada por el incremento sustancial, especialmente en los países desarrollados, del nivel educativo de la fuerza laboral, de manera que el porcentaje de población activa con niveles de educación superior, ha aumentado considerablemente en dichos países, lo cual ha llevado a plantearnos la necesidad de evaluar la coordinación entre las distintas formas de acumulación de capital humano, ya que entendiendo su distinto comportamiento podemos llegar a entender mejor las diferencias en los niveles de renta.
    Keywords: Disparidades Salariales; Educación Formal; Formación en el puesto de trabajo
    JEL: I20 J21 J24 J30 J31
    Date: 2007–06

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