nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2009‒10‒24
eleven papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre and Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Kindergarten Enrollment and the Intergenerational Transmission of Education By Bauer, Philipp C.; Riphahn, Regina T.
  2. School Choice in German Primary Schools: How binding are school districts? By Andrea Riedel; Kerstin Schneider; Claudia Schuchart; Horst Weishaupt
  4. Apprenticeship Training and the Business Cycle By Mühlemann, Samuel; Wolter, Stefan; Wüest, Adrian
  5. Income contingent tuition fees for universities By Neil Shephard
  6. The End of Literacy: The Growth and Measurement of British Public Education Since the Early 19th Century By David Vincent
  7. Child policy ineffectiveness in an OLG small open economy with human capital accumulation and public education By Luciano Fanti and Luca Gori
  8. The Tools of Transition: Education and Development in Modern Southeast Asian History By Tim Harper
  9. An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics By Roland G. Fryer, Jr; Steven D. Levitt
  10. Towards better Schools and more Equal Opportunities for Learning in Italy By Romina Boarini
  11. Character, knowledge and skills in ancient Greek education: Lessons for today’s policy makers By Bitros, George C.; Karayiannis, Anastasios D.

  1. By: Bauer, Philipp C. (economiesuisse); Riphahn, Regina T. (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)
    Abstract: We use Swiss data to test whether intergenerational educational mobility is affected by the age at which children enroll in kindergarten. Taking advantage of heterogeneity across cantons we find that early kindergarten enrollment significantly increases educational mobility.
    Keywords: Kindergarten, pre-school enrollment, educational mobility, intergenerational transmission of education
    JEL: I2 I21 J24 D30
    Date: 2009–10
  2. By: Andrea Riedel (Schumpeter School of Business and Economics, University of Wuppertal); Kerstin Schneider (Schumpeter School of Business and Economics, University of Wuppertal and CESifo); Claudia Schuchart (ZBL, University of Wuppertal); Horst Weishaupt (DIPF, Frankfurt)
    Abstract: In this paper we look at school choice in primary schools in Germany. The data used is from Wuppertal, a major city in North-Rhine Westphalia (NRW), where school districts were abolished in 2008 to allow for free school choice. Here we look at the situation before 2008 to learn more about choice in the presence of school districts. Our analysis shows that it is not uncommon to visit a primary school that is not the assigned public school. Moreover, parents choose schools taking into account the distance to school, the quality and the socioeconomic composition of the school. Families from disadvantaged neighborhoods tend to send their children to the assigned school. A high percentage of migrants and/or economically disadvantaged families in the school district, however, induces parents to choose another school. Advantaged families make segregating choices, whereas the results for disadvantaged are not clear cut. The negative external effect of choice on the composition of the not chosen school is significant and the level of segregation in the primary schools is high and exceeds the level of residential segregation.
    Keywords: education system, segregation, school choice, denominational school, migration, socioeconomic status
    Date: 2009–10
  3. By: Stéphane Bonhomme (CEMFI, Centro de Estudios Monetarios y Financieros); Ulrich Sauder (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We compare the effects of selective and non selective secondary education on children’s test scores, using British data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS). Test scores are modelled as the output of an additive production function. Inputs include family and school characteristics, as well as the child’s unobserved initial endowment, which may be correlated with the education system attended. In the model, the average effect of selective education can be estimated using semiparametric Difference-in-Difference (DID) methods. We generalize the DID approach and provide conditions under which the entire counterfactual distribution of potential outcomes is identified, and can be consistently estimated using a deconvolution-related approach. Descriptive statistics on the NCDS data show that children perform better in selective schools. Our results suggest that this is essentially due to differences in pupils’ composition between selective and non selective schools. When correcting for these differences, we find that the effects of selective education are small and mostly insignificant.
    Keywords: Selective education, ability bias, tratment effects, quantiles.
    JEL: C33 I21
    Date: 2009–08
  4. By: Mühlemann, Samuel (University of Bern); Wolter, Stefan (University of Bern); Wüest, Adrian (affiliation not available)
    Abstract: Dual apprenticeship training is a market-driven form of education at the upper secondary level, taking place in firms as well as in vocational schools. So far, little is known about the impact of the business cycle on the number of apprenticeship programs offered by firms. Using panel-data of Swiss cantons from 1988-2004, we find that the influence of the business cycle is statistically significant, but small in size. Instead, supply of apprenticeship programs is driven to a much greater extent by demographic change. Conversely, the number of first-year high school students is not affected by the business cycle. We find, however, that enrollment increases if the population at age 16 grows, but access to high schools does not become more restricted in times of negative growth.
    Keywords: apprenticeship training, business cycle, high school enrollment
    JEL: E24 I21 J18 J44
    Date: 2009–10
  5. By: Neil Shephard
    Abstract: I show that the fiscal position of the UK means it will be very hard for the next government to allow the undergraduate fee cap to increase beyond the rate of inflation. The funding position of the higher education sector can be improved by the government removing the interest rate subsidy it currently gives to students. However, even this does not really allow the fee cap to increase markedly as any increase would lead to the Government’s loan book expanding. I suggest each university should be allowed to introduce its own income contingent fee, on top of the existing national funding structure. Each graduate would only have to pay these fees to its university if their income rises beyond the point of paying off their maintenance and state tuition loans. I show these new fees are fiscally neutral and have no impact on the loan book or the financial position of the universities which do not introduce such fees. Such fees have the potential to provide a long-run solution to the repeated underfunding of undergraduate education at a number of English universities and reduce the fiscal pressure the state is under.
    JEL: I22 C8
    Date: 2009
  6. By: David Vincent
    Abstract: The paper explores the significance of counting communication skills in one of the earliest societies to achieve mass literacy. The Millennium Development Goals in education reflect structures of practice and thinking rooted in the 19th century. The notion of a goal itself, the measurable output of official endeavour, belongs to the founding of the modern state. Literacy as an early performance indicator of public expenditure embodied a construction of an opposition between ignorance and knowledge, a disaggregation of social structures and a dismissal of informal education. It sustained the rise of the performance orientation of schooling, which subordinated the role of users. Despite their cultural limitations, the literacy and postal statistics permitted long-run quantitative analysis. There remains a question, to which historians do not have a privileged answer, as to whether education in its fullest sense is a goal that can ever be consistently measured over time and across space. The contemporary shifts in the meaning of literacy threaten to disconnect the term from history and disable our capacity fully to understand the dynamics of change.
    Date: 2009
  7. By: Luciano Fanti and Luca Gori
    Abstract: Motivated by the recent decrease in the number of children experienced in many developed countries, in this paper we consider an OLG small open economy with endogenous fertility and human capital formation through public education and look at the role the government can play in affecting fertility rates through the widely used child allowance policy. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we show that child allowances do not affect fertility. The policy implication is that the public provision of child allowances is not effective as a pro-natalist policy, while also reducing human capital accumulation. In contrast, enhancing the public provision of education is beneficial for both fertility and human capital.
    Keywords: Child allowance; Fertility; Public education; Small open economy.
    JEL: I28 J13
    Date: 2009–10–15
  8. By: Tim Harper
    Abstract: Although great importance is attached to the role of education in national development in Southeast Asia, its role has been ambivalent. In the colonial period, education was a central way in which societies mobilised to challenge and resist European rulers. Yet education has also been the central vehicle through which colonial and post-colonial states have sought to impose their own visions and discipline their subjects. Southeast Asia’s history has been marked by a cultural willingness to borrow and adapt ideas, practices and institutions from outside. Yet this has also been a source of anxiety and conflict. The ‘indigenous’ is often a product of an immediate post-colonial history, rather than the expression of a longer cultural experience. Historians can try to provide a useful narrative of regional thinking about education and development in Southeast Asia, particularly during its key ‘periods of transition’, and thus help to set educational developments within in a wider context. Providing a historical perspective, this paper attempts to map some of the region’s capacities and capabilities, and to examine how adequately they have been exploited by the formal educational sector.
    Date: 2009
  9. By: Roland G. Fryer, Jr; Steven D. Levitt
    Abstract: We document and analyze the emergence of a substantial gender gap in mathematics in the early years of schooling using a large, recent, and nationally representative panel of children in the United States. There are no mean differences between boys and girls upon entry to school, but girls lose more than two-tenths of a standard deviation relative to boys over the first six years of school. The ground lost by girls relative to boys is roughly half as large as the black-white test score gap that appears over these same ages. We document the presence of this gender math gap across every strata of society. We explore a wide range of possible explanations in the U.S. data, including less investment by girls in math, low parental expectations, and biased tests, but find little support for any of these theories. Moving to cross-country comparisons, we find that earlier results linking the gender gap in math to measures of gender equality are sensitive to the inclusion of Muslim countries, where in spite of women’s low status, there is little or no gender gap in math.
    JEL: I20
    Date: 2009–10
  10. By: Romina Boarini
    Abstract: Compulsory school education in Italy produces poor results in terms of 15-year olds’ performance on PISA tests, compared with other OECD countries, despite a relatively high level of expenditure. While the influence of social background is smaller than in many OECD countries, it is largely transmitted through a kind of self-segregation resulting from family choices among the different types of upper secondary school. Large differences in pupils’ performance between regions cannot be explained by the quantity of resources available; separating the influence of socio-economic conditions from school efficiency is difficult and must be treated carefully in plans for extending fiscal federalism. The Italian government is rightly concerned to get better value for money and this chapter argues that policies to improve the information available to schools and teachers on the results they are achieving, while giving them appropriate incentives, responsibility and power to respond to such information, are necessary accompaniments to expenditure-saving policies. An improved focus on good quality training, both for new recruits and experienced teachers, and recruitment procedures themselves, should also pay dividends on efficiency.<P>Améliorer l’école et l’égalité d’accès à l’éducation en Italie<BR>Par rapport aux autres pays de l'OCDE, les résultats des tests PISA des élèves italiens de 15 ans sont médiocres, et ce, malgré des dépenses d’éducation relativement élevées. Si l’incidence du milieu social est moindre que dans de nombreux autres pays membres, elle passe essentiellement par une sorte d’autodiscrimination résultant du choix des familles entre les différents types d’établissements secondaires du deuxième cycle. L’importance des écarts de résultats scolaires entre les régions ne peut s’expliquer par le volume des ressources disponibles. Il est difficile de faire la distinction entre l’impact des conditions socioéconomiques et l’efficience des établissements, et cela doit être étudié avec soin dans le cadre des projets d’extension du fédéralisme fiscal. Le gouvernement italien souhaite, à juste titre, optimiser les dépenses publiques et le présent chapitre défend l’idée selon laquelle des mesures visant à améliorer les informations à disposition des établissements scolaires et des enseignants concernant leurs résultats – tout en leur apportant les incitations, les responsabilités et les pouvoirs nécessaires pour agir en fonction de ces résultats – doivent accompagner les mesures d’économies budgétaires. Une attention plus grande accordée à une formation de qualité pour les enseignants, qu’il s’agisse des nouvelles recrues comme des enseignants chevronnés, ainsi qu’aux procédures de recrutement elles-mêmes, devrait également favoriser l’efficience.
    Keywords: education, Italy, Italie, éducation, fiscal federalism, fédéralisme fiscal, PISA data, données PISA, school outcomes, résultats scolaires
    JEL: I21 I28
    Date: 2009–10–12
  11. By: Bitros, George C.; Karayiannis, Anastasios D.
    Abstract: The efforts to alleviate poverty by increasing social budgets have failed everywhere in the world and now the question is what else can be done to support those that are left behind. In this paper we search for illumination in the approaches to education that Athens and Sparta adopted in the peak of their power. Our findings indicate that both city-states confronted their challenges successfully because they managed to mold into the character of their citizens “ethos” compatible with the integrity of their institutions. On this ground, and given that “knowledge” and “skills” as engines of economic growth are in the interest of the individuals to accumulate, we conclude that an alternative policy to check the trend towards extreme individualism is to place priority on the character of citizens and pursue it through appropriate restructuring of educational curricula in the direction suggested by ancient Athens.
    Keywords: ancient Greece; education; economic performance; morality
    JEL: I20 N30 B11
    Date: 2009–10–20

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