nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2009‒02‒28
ten papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Technical University of Lisbon

  1. The Value of a College Education: Estimating the Effect of Teacher Preparation on Student Achievement By Sharon Kukla-Acevedo; Eugenia F. Toma
  2. The Design of the University System By De Fraja, Gianni; Valbonesi, Paola
  3. Labour Market Effects of the Polytechnic Education Reform: The Finnish Experience By Böckerman, Petri; Hämäläinen, Ulla; Uusitalo, Roope
  4. One Size Fits All? The Effects of Teacher Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Abilities on Student Achievement By Grönqvist, Erik; Vlachos, Jonas
  5. After They Graduate: An Overview of the Iowa State University Alumni Survey By Jolly, Robert W.; Yu, Li; Orazem, Peter
  6. Peer Effects and Social Networks in Education By Calvó-Armengol, Antoni; Patacchini, Eleonora; Zenou, Yves
  7. The Performance of German Research Training Groups in Different Disciplinary Fields: An Empirical Assessment By Birgit Unger; Kerstin Pull; Uschi Backes-Gellner
  8. The Value of School Facilities: Evidence from a Dynamic Regression Discontinuity Design By Stephanie Riegg Cellini; Fernando Ferreira; Jesse Rothstein
  9. Comparing the Early Research Performance of PhD Graduates in Labour Economics in Europe and the USA By Cardoso, Ana Rute; Guimaraes, Paulo; Zimmermann, Klaus F
  10. Does Teaching Load Affect Faculty Size? By Becker, William E.; Greene, William H.; Siegfried, John J.

  1. By: Sharon Kukla-Acevedo (Deparment of Political Science, Central Michigan University); Eugenia F. Toma (Martin School of Public Policy and Administration, University of Kentucky)
    Abstract: Federal legislation currently holds institutions of higher education accountable for the quality of teachers that they produce. However research has yet to demonstrate that teacher preparation programs (TPPs) have differential effects on the quality of teachers they produce in terms of student achievement. This study uses data from a sample of 2,582 5th grade math students in an urban school district in Kentucky and a school fixed effects design to explore the variation in average TPP effects. The authors find that TPPs are differentially effective in training teachers, which in turn impacts student performance on 5th grade math scores. There is also some indication that these differential effects converge around teachers’ fifth year of teaching.
    Keywords: Student achievement; teacher preparation, teacher effects
    Date: 2009–01
  2. By: De Fraja, Gianni; Valbonesi, Paola
    Abstract: This paper compares the organisation of the university sector under private provision with the structure which would be chosen by a welfare maximising government. It studies a general equilibrium model where universities carry out research and teach students. To attend university, and earn higher incomes in the labour market, students pay a tuition fee, and each university chooses its tuition fee to maximise the amount of resources it can devote to research. Research bestows an externality on society because it increases labour market earnings. Government intervention needs to balance labour market efficiency considerations -- which would tend to equalise the number of students attending each university -- with considerations of efficiency on the production side, which suggest that the most productive universities should teach more students and carry out more research. We find that government concentrates research more than the private market would, but less than it would like to do if it had perfect information about the productivity of universities. It also allows fewer universities than would operate in a private system.
    Keywords: higher education; university sector
    JEL: H42 I21 I28
    Date: 2008–11
  3. By: Böckerman, Petri (Labour Institute for Economic Research); Hämäläinen, Ulla (The Social Insurance Institution of Finland); Uusitalo, Roope (VATT, Helsinki)
    Abstract: This paper evaluates the labour market effects of the introduction of the polytechnic education system in Finland. The polytechnic reform gradually transformed former vocational colleges into polytechnics. Since the timing of the reform differed across schools, we can compare the performance of polytechnic graduates to the performance of vocational college graduates controlling for both the year and the school effects. The results are somewhat sensitive to how the selectivity issues are treated but generally suggest that both the earnings and the employment levels of post-reform graduates are higher in the field of business and administration. The effects are much smaller and usually insignificant in other fields.
    Keywords: I21, I23
    Date: 2009–02
  4. By: Grönqvist, Erik; Vlachos, Jonas
    Abstract: Teachers are increasingly being drawn from the lower parts of the general ability distribution, but it is not clear how this affects student achievement. We track the position of entering teachers in population-wide cognitive and non-cognitive ability distributions using school grades and draft records from Swedish registers. The impact on student achievement caused by the position of teachers in these ability distributions is estimated using matched student-teacher data. On average, teachers' cognitive and non-cognitive social interactive abilities do not have a positive effect on student performance. However, social interactive ability turns out to be important for low aptitude students, whilst the reverse holds for cognitive abilities. In fact, while high performing students benefit from high cognitive teachers, being matched to such a teacher can even be detrimental to their lower performing peers. Hence, the lower abilities among teachers may hurt some students, whereas others may even benefit. High cognitive and non-cognitive abilities thus need not necessarily translate into teacher quality. Instead, these heterogeneities highlight the importance of the student-teacher matching process.
    Keywords: Cognitive and non-cognitive ability; Student achievement; Teacher quality
    JEL: H4 I21 J4
    Date: 2008–12
  5. By: Jolly, Robert W.; Yu, Li; Orazem, Peter
    Abstract: This report provides a descriptive overview of the Iowa State University Alumni Survey. In late 2007, 25,000 Iowa State University alumni who received bachelor's degree between 1982 and 2006 were surveyed to obtain information on their career paths, employment status, further education, entrepreneurial activities, community engagement and current income. The on-line and written survey resulted in approximately 5,500 valid returns.
    Keywords: human capital, career path, bachelor's degree recipients, land-grant university, entrepreneurship, personal income, community engagement.
    Date: 2009–02–17
  6. By: Calvó-Armengol, Antoni; Patacchini, Eleonora; Zenou, Yves
    Abstract: This paper studies whether structural properties of friendship networks affect individual outcomes in education. We first develop a model that shows that, at the Nash equilibrium, the outcome of each individual embedded in a network is proportional to her Katz-Bonacich centrality measure. This measure takes into account both direct and indirect friends of each individual but puts less weight to her distant friends. We then bring the model to the data by using a very detailed dataset of adolescent friendship networks. We show that, after controlling for observable individual characteristics and unobservable network specific factors, the individual's position in a network (as measured by her Katz-Bonacich centrality) is a key determinant of her level of activity. A standard deviation increase in the Katz-Bonacich centrality increases the pupil school performance by more than 7 percent of one standard deviation.
    Keywords: centrality measure; network structure; peer influence; school performance
    JEL: A14 C31 C72
    Date: 2008–11
  7. By: Birgit Unger (Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingen); Kerstin Pull (Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingen); Uschi Backes-Gellner (Institute for Strategy and Business Economics, University of Zurich)
    Abstract: In the early 90s, the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, abbr. DFG) established a new form of graduate education: the so-called Research Training Groups (RTGs). Comparable to PhD programs in the US, RTGs offer a structured course program and a framework for collaborative research for young researchers. As a result, the comple¬tion rate of doctoral degrees and the scientific visibility of doctoral and postdoctoral research were held to increase. However, the performance of German RTGs has not been evaluated as yet. In this paper, we undertake a first step in that direction and assess the performance of German RTGs in two different disciplinary fields (humanities & social sciences vs. natural & life sciences). We do so in two important respects by assessing (1) the doctoral completion rate as an immediate outcome of the graduate teaching undertaken and (2) the scientific visibility of doctoral and postdoctoral students as measured by their publication and presen¬tation output. In our analysis of 86 German RTGs we are able to show that the performance of German RTGs varies considerably in and between the different disciplinary fields. An additionally performed Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) hints at a considerable potential for a performance improvement.
    Keywords: Research Training Group, publications, presentations, doctoral completion rate, performance
    JEL: I21 I23
    Date: 2009–02
  8. By: Stephanie Riegg Cellini (George Washington University); Fernando Ferreira (University of Pennsylvania); Jesse Rothstein (Princeton University)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the impact of voter-approved school bond issues on school district balance sheets, local housing prices, and student achievement. We draw on the unique characteristics of California’s system of school finance to obtain clean identification of bonds’ causal effects, comparing districts in which school bond referenda passed or failed by narrow margins. We extend the traditional regression discontinuity (RD) design to account for the dynamic nature of bond referenda, since the probability of future proposals depends on the outcomes of past elections. By law, bond revenues can be used only for school facilities projects. We find that bond funds indeed stick exclusively in the capital account, with no effect on current expenditures or other revenues. Our housing market estimates indicate that California school districts under-invest in school facilities: passing a referendum causes immediate, sizable increases in home prices, implying a willingness-to-pay on the part of marginal homebuyers of $1.50 or more for each $1 of facility spending. These effects do not appear to be driven by changes in the income or racial composition of homeowners, and the school bond impact on test scores cannot explain more than a small portion of the total housing price effect. Our estimates indicate that parents value improvements in other dimensions of school output (e.g., safety) that may be not captured by test scores.
    Date: 2008–11
  9. By: Cardoso, Ana Rute; Guimaraes, Paulo; Zimmermann, Klaus F
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the early research performance of PhD graduates in labor economics, addressing the following questions: Are there major productivity differences between graduates from American and European institutions? If so, how relevant is the quality of the training received (i.e. ranking of institution and supervisor) and the research environment in the subsequent job placement institution? The population under study consists of labor economics PhD graduates who received their degree in the years 2000 to 2005 in Europe or the USA. Research productivity is evaluated alternatively as the number of publications or the quality-adjusted number of publications of an individual. When restricting the analysis to the number of publications, results suggest a higher productivity by graduates from European universities than from USA universities, but this difference vanishes when accounting for the quality of the publication. The results also indicate that graduates placed at American institutions, in particular top ones, are likely to publish more quality-adjusted articles than their European counterparts. This may be because, when hired, they already have several good acceptances or because of more focused research efforts and clearer career incentives.
    Keywords: graduate programs; research productivity
    JEL: A10 A11 A14 A23 J44
    Date: 2009–01
  10. By: Becker, William E. (Indiana University); Greene, William H. (New York University); Siegfried, John J. (Vanderbilt University)
    Abstract: Random effects estimates using panel data for 42 colleges and universities over 16 years reveal that the economics faculty size of universities offering a Ph.D. in economics is determined primarily by the long-run average number of Ph.D. degrees awarded annually; the number of full-time faculty increases at almost a one-for-one pace as the average number of Ph.D.s grows. Faculty size at Ph.D. granting universities is largely unresponsive to changes in the number of undergraduate economics degrees awarded at those institutions. In contrast, faculty size at colleges where a bachelor's is the highest degree awarded is responsive to the average number of economics degrees awarded annually, growing by about one for each additional eleven graduating economics majors.
    Keywords: student body, faculty size, Ph.D. degrees, bachelor degrees
    JEL: A22 A23 C23 J21
    Date: 2009–02

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