nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2009‒04‒25
fourteen papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Ability-grouping and Academic Inequality: Evidence From Rule-based Student Assignments By C. Kirabo Jackson
  2. Do teachers matter? Measuring the variation in teacher effectiveness in England By Helen Slater; Simon Burgess; Neil Davies
  3. Ranking Economics Departments in Terms of Residual Productivity: New Zealand Economics Departments, 2000-2006 By David L. Anderson; John Tresler
  4. Unbounding entrepreneurial intents of university students: a multidisciplinary perspective By Aurora A.C. Teixeira; Rosa Portela Forte
  5. Do More Friends Mean Better Grades?: Student Popularity and Academic Achievement By Kata Mihaly
  6. University professors and research commercialization: An empirical test of the “knowledge corridor” thesis By Gabrielsson, Jonas; Politis, Diamanto; Tell, Joakim
  7. Which Immigrants Are Most Innovative and Entrepreneurial? Distinctions by Entry Visa By Jennifer Hunt
  8. The Determinants and Effects of Training at Work: Bringing the Workplace Back In By O'Connell, Philip J.; Byrne, Delma
  9. Education and the dynamics of family decisions. By Rebeca Echávarri
  10. Testing Becker's Theory of Positive Assortative Matching By Aloysius Siow
  11. Does child spacing affect children’s outcomes? Evidence from a Swedish reform By Pettersson-Lidbom, Per; Skogman Thoursie, Peter
  12. Separate Effects of Sibling Gender and Family Size on Educational Achievements - Methods and First Evidence from Population Birth Registry By Yen-Chien Chen; Stacey H. Chen; Jin-Tan Liu
  13. Income tax, subsidies to education, and investments in human capital in a two-sector economy By Mendolicchio, Concetta; Paolini, Dimitri; Pietra, Tito
  14. Quantifying Quantitative Literacy: Age Heaping and the History of Human Capital By A'Hearn, Brian; Baten, Jörg; Crayen, Dorothee

  1. By: C. Kirabo Jackson
    Abstract: In Trinidad and Tobago students are assigned to secondary schools after fifth grade based on achievement tests, leading to large differences in the school environments to which students of differing initial levels of achievement are exposed. Using both a regression discontinuity design and rule-based instrumental variables to address self-selection bias, I find that being assigned to a school with higher-achieving peers has large positive effects on examination performance. These effects are about twice as large for girls than for boys. This suggests that ability-grouping reinforces achievement differences by assigning the weakest students to schools that provide the least value-added.
    JEL: I20
    Date: 2009–04
  2. By: Helen Slater; Simon Burgess; Neil Davies
    Abstract: Using a unique primary dataset for the UK, we estimate the effect of individual teachers on student outcomes, and the variability in teacher quality. This links over 7000 pupils to the individual teachers who taught them, in each of their compulsory subjects in the high-stakes exams at age 16. We use point-in-time fixed effects and prior attainment to control for pupil heterogeneity. We find considerable variability in teacher effectiveness, a little higher than the estimates found in the few US studies. We also corroborate recent findings that observed teachers’ characteristics explain very little of the differences in estimated effectiveness.
    Keywords: education, test scores, teacher effectiveness
    JEL: I20
    Date: 2009–01
  3. By: David L. Anderson (Queen's University); John Tresler (University of Waikato)
    Abstract: This paper considers a new approach for ranking the research productivity of academic departments. Our approach provides rankings in terms of residual research output after controlling for the key characteristics of each department’s academic staff. More specifically, we estimate residual research output rankings for all of New Zealand’s economics departments based on their publication performance over the 2000 to 2006 period. We do so after taking into account the following characteristics of each department’s academic staff: gender, experience, seniority, academic credentials, and academic rank. The paper concludes with a comparison of rankings generated by the residual research approach with those generated by traditional approaches to research rankings.
    Keywords: economics departments; university rankings; research output; economics research
    JEL: A19 C81 J24
    Date: 2009–03–31
  4. By: Aurora A.C. Teixeira (CEF.UP, Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto; INESC Porto); Rosa Portela Forte (CEF.UP, Faculdade de Economia, Universidade do Porto)
    Abstract: Entrepreneurial activities are seen as key drivers of innovation, job creation, and economic growth. Recent efforts are being pursued by several entities, including governments to promote entrepreneurial skills amongst the youngest. However, to design effective programs, policy makers have to uncover the determinants of entrepreneurship. To avoid that such efforts would be fruitless we argue that a multidisciplinary account of entrepreneurial intents among students is mandatory, circumventing past biased analysis towards business and engineering areas. Thus, in this paper we present the results of a survey to all final year university students of the largest Portuguese university. It encompasses a sample of 2431 students enrolled in 60 different undergraduate courses of 14 schools/faculties. Results evidence that the average entrepreneurial intents reaches a reasonable (by international standards) figure of 27%, with students enrolled in non-traditionally entrepreneurial focused areas – Humanities, Sports, Health and Sciences – and courses - Pharmacy, Veterinary, Law, Languages, History, History of the Arts and Archaeology, Sports, Biology and Chemistry, Dentistry - revealing higher entrepreneurial intents. Based on logit estimations, we further found that psychological factors, such as risk propensity, leadership profile, and creativeness, are the most important (positive) determinants of students’ entrepreneurial intents. Contextual factors (e.g., family background and professional experience) failed to emerge as critical factors in explaining students’ entrepreneurial intents - only business context emerged as important. Despite such results might at a first glance convey the idea that education policy for promoting entrepreneurship has limited application, we argue that it is not the case. What is required is different policy measures targeting students’ attitudes and behaviors in both business and non business areas, avoiding the long-established mistake of confining entrepreneurial education related programs within business schools.
    Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Intents; Students; Higher Education; Multidisciplinary; Portugal
    JEL: M13 I21 A22
    Date: 2009–04
  5. By: Kata Mihaly
    Abstract: Peer interactions have been argued to play a major role in student academic achievement. Recent work has focused on measuring the structure of peer interactions with the location of the student in their social network and has found a positive relationship between student popularity and academic achievement. Here the author ascertains the robustness of previous findings to controls for endogenous friendship formation. The results indicate that popularity influences academic achievement positively in the baseline model, a finding which is consistent with the literature. However, controlling for endogenous friendship formation results in a large drop in the effect of popularity, with a significantly negative coefficient in all of the specifications. These results point to a negative short term effect of social capital accumulation, lending support to the theory that social interactions crowd out activities that improve academic performance.
    JEL: I21
    Date: 2009–03
  6. By: Gabrielsson, Jonas; Politis, Diamanto; Tell, Joakim
    Abstract: There has been an increasing interest in the determinants and outcomes of successful technology transfer and commercialization of research results. In this study we test the validity of the “knowledge corridor” thesis for explaining the involvement of university professors’ in the early stages of research commercialization. Statistical analysis on a sample of 86 respondents from engineering, natural science and medical faculties in a large Swedish university shows that both entrepreneurial and private industry experience significantly influence their ability to spot and generate business ideas in their research. Moreover, we find that research based business idea generation increase at a faster rate for professors with private sector work experience who have more time for research in their positions. The article ends with a discussion of our empirical findings together with its implications for support activities related to technology transfer and commercialization of research results.
    Keywords: academic entrepreneurship, knowledge corridor, research commercialization
    JEL: O31 O32 O33 O34 O38 N5 O47 R58
    Date: 2009
  7. By: Jennifer Hunt
    Abstract: Using the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates, I examine how immigrants perform relative to natives in activities likely to increase U.S. productivity, according to the type of visa on which they first entered the United States. Immigrants who first entered on a student/trainee visa or a temporary work visa have a large advantage over natives in wages, patenting, commercializing or licensing patents, and publishing. In general, this advantage is explained by immigrants' higher education and field of study, but this is not the case for publishing, and immigrants are more likely to start companies than natives with similar education. Immigrants without U.S. education and who arrived at older ages suffer a wage handicap, which offsets savings to the United States from their having completed more education abroad. Immigrants who entered with legal permanent residence do not outperform natives for any of the outcomes considered.
    JEL: J61 O31
    Date: 2009–04
  8. By: O'Connell, Philip J. (ESRI); Byrne, Delma (ESRI)
    Abstract: This paper brings together two research fields: on work-related training and high performance work practices (HPWP), respectively. We estimate models of both the determinants and the impact of training using the NCPP/ESRI Changing Workplace Survey. Our models of the determinants of training confirm previous research: age, education, contract, tenure, and firm size all influence training. Several components of HPWP are associated with a higher probability of training, specifically, general (non-firm-specific) training. Participation in general training is associated with higher earnings, as is involvement in highly participative and consultative working arrangements, and performance reward systems. These patterns of training, and returns to training, are broadly consistent with HPWP approaches and represent a challenge to human capital theory.
    Date: 2009–04
  9. By: Rebeca Echávarri (The University of the Basque Country)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the extent to which a biased transmission of educational endowments affects fertility. To this end, we devise a version of Becker’s family decision model that takes preference change into account. Specifically, we model education as an instrument that increases the autonomy (to prefer), and autonomy as an instrument of preference-change for household-structures. The empirical validity of the proposed model is examined for the European setting using the European Community Household Panel. In the context of the model, empirical findings imply the following. On the one hand, both preference for quantity and preference for bequest for each offspring (quality) increases with education, while preference for current consumption decreases. On the other hand, education is found to be negatively correlated with fertility, at a decreasing rate. Therefore, the paper provides a useful additional toolkit for public policy evaluation. It explains how public policies oriented toward the guarantee of personal freedoms, such as the expansion of education and autonomy, are likely to guarantee the same freedoms for subsequent generations.
    Keywords: Intergenerational Transmission; Household Behavior; Education; Autonomy.
    JEL: D1 J1
    Date: 2009–04–22
  10. By: Aloysius Siow
    Abstract: In a static frictionless transferable utilities bilateral matching market with systematic and idiosyncratic payoffs, supermodularity of the match output function implies a strong form of positive assortative matching: The equilibrium matching distribution has all positive local log odd ratios or totally positive of order 2 (TP2). A strong form of a preference for own type implies supermodularity of the match output function. It has additional restrictions on local odds ratios. Local odds ratios are not informative on whether a bilateral matching market equilibrates with or without transfers. Using white married couples in their thirties from the US 2000 census, spousal educational matching obeyed TP2 except for less than 0.2% of marriages with extreme spousal educational disparities. Using the TP2 order, there were more positive assortative matching by couples living in SMSA's than those who do not; but not more positive assortative matching in 2000 than in 1970. There were increases in specific local log odds over that period.
    Keywords: matching, marriage, education, local log odds, TP2, United States
    JEL: J1 C51
    Date: 2009–04–15
  11. By: Pettersson-Lidbom, Per (Departmet of Economics, Stockholm University); Skogman Thoursie, Peter (IFAU - Institute for Labour Market Policy Evaluation)
    Abstract: In this paper, we provide evidence of whether child spacing affects the future success of children. As an exogenous source of variation in child spacing, we make use of the introduction of an administrative rule in the parental leave benefit system in Sweden. This rule made it possible for a woman to retain her previous high level of parental leave benefits, i.e., 90 percent wage replacement, without entering the labor market between births provided that the interval between the births did not exceed 24 months. The rule had a much larger effect on the birth spacing behavior for native-born mothers compared to foreign-born mothers due to their differential attachment to the labor market. We find that the rule caused a reduction in spacing among native-born mothers as compared to the foreign-born mothers. For individuals born by native-born mothers, the reform also caused a decrease in educational attainment. Thus, this suggests that the effect of spacing children closer has a negative impact on children’s future outcomes. We provide additional evidence that this is likely due to the strong effects of early environment on the capacity for human skill development as discussed by Knutsen et al. (2006).
    Keywords: Child spacing; parental leave; child school performance
    JEL: J13 J18
    Date: 2009–03–31
  12. By: Yen-Chien Chen (Department of Economics, National Taiwan University); Stacey H. Chen (Department of Economics, Royal Holloway, University of London); Jin-Tan Liu (Department of Economics, National Taiwan University)
    Abstract: Son-preferring parents tend to continue to have babies until a son's birth. After deciding the set of children, the parents with resource constraints may divert family sources from daughters to a son. Thus, the presence of a son, relative to a daughter, have 2 distinct effects on his sister's educational out- comes; the direct effect while holding constant family size and the indirect effect through decreasing family size. Previous estimates of the direct effect take family size as an exogenous and predetermined covariate, and assume the size is endogenous and dependent on the sex composition of early-born siblings. We show that even if child gender and family size are both exogenous, use of an instrument for family size is required to isolate the direct effect from the main effects of family size. Using a large and unique administrative data from Taiwan, we demonstrate how Instrumental-Variable Methods resolve both prob- lems of endogeneity and causal dependence of an important covariate (family size) on treatment status (sibling sex). Furthermore, we minimize the incident of sex-selective abortion by restricting our birth data on cohorts prior to abor- tion legalization and prior to prevalent practice of prenatal sex determination. Using the occurrence of twining to instrument for family size conditional on birthweights, our IV estimates show a strong direct effect of a male sibling, relative to a female, on women's college attainment, if the women were born in the earliest year of our data, 1978. After 1978, both effects of sibling gender and family size are almost zero.
    Keywords: Sibling sex composition, family size, intrafamily allocation of resources; quantity-quality trade-off; education
    JEL: I20 J13 J16 J24 O10 R20
    Date: 2009–03
  13. By: Mendolicchio, Concetta; Paolini, Dimitri; Pietra, Tito
    Abstract: The paper studies a two-sector economy with investments in human and physical capital and imperfect labor markets. Workers and firms endogenously select the sector they are active in, and choose the amount of their investments. To enter the high-skill sector, workers must pay a fixed cost that we interpret as direct cost of education. The economy is characterized by two different pecuniary externalities. Given the distribution of the agents across sectors, at equilibrium, in each sector there is underinvestment in both human and physical capital, due to non-contractibility of investments. A second pecuniary externality is induced by the self-selection of the agents in the two sectors. When total factor productivities are sufficiently diverse, subsidies to labor income in the low skill sector and fixed taxes on the direct costs of education increase total surplus, while subsidies to labor income in the high skill sector can actually reduce it.
    Keywords: Human capital; Efficiency; Labour income tax
    JEL: J24
    Date: 2009–03
  14. By: A'Hearn, Brian; Baten, Jörg; Crayen, Dorothee
    Abstract: Age data frequently display excess frequencies at attractive numbers, such as multiples of five. We use this "age heaping" to measure cognitive ability in quantitative reasoning, or "numeracy". We construct a database of age heaping estimates with exceptional geographic and temporal coverage, and demonstrate a robust correlation of literacy and numeracy, where both can be observed. Extending the temporal and geographic range of our knowledge of human capital, we show that Western Europe had already diverged from the East and reached high numeracy levels by 1600, long before the rise of mass schooling or the onset of industrialization.
    Keywords: Age Heaping; Europe; Human Capital; Literacy; Long-term Growth
    JEL: E24 I20 N13 O14 O40
    Date: 2009–04

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