nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2009‒11‒27
eleven papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre and Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Discovering One's Talent: Learning from Academic Specialization By Ofer Malamud
  2. Heterogeneous Class Size Effects: New Evidence from a Panel of University Students By Bandiera, Oriana; Larcinese, Valentino; Rasul, Imran
  3. The Impact of No Child Left Behind on Student Achievement By Thomas Dee; Brian Jacob
  4. Catch Me If You Can: Education and Catch-up in the Industrial Revolution By Becker, Sascha O.; Hornung, Erik; Woessmann, Ludger
  5. Adolescent Motherhood and Secondary Schooling in Chile By Kruger, Diana; Berthelon, Matias; Navia, Rodrigo
  6. Delaying the Bell: The Effects of Longer School Days on Adolescent Motherhood in Chile By Kruger, Diana; Berthelon, Matias
  7. College cost and time to complete a degree: Evidence from tuition discontinuities By Francesco Giavazzi; Pietro Garibaldi; Andrea Ichino; Enrico Rettore
  8. What parents want: school preferences and school choice By Simon Burgess; Ellen Greaves; Anna Vignoles; Deborah Wilson
  9. How Much Should We Trust Linear Instrumental Variables Estimators? An Application to Family Size and Children's Education By Mogstad, Magne; Wiswall, Matthew
  10. Forced to be Rich? Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Britain By Paul J. Devereux; Robert A. Hart
  11. Estimation of Treatment Effects Without an Exclusion Restriction: with an Application to the Analysis of the School Breakfast Program By Daniel L. Millimet; Rusty Tchernis

  1. By: Ofer Malamud
    Abstract: In addition to providing useful skills, education may also yield valuable information about one's tastes and talents. This paper exploits an exogenous difference in the timing of academic specialization within the British system of higher education to test whether education provides such information. I develop a model in which individuals, by taking courses in different fields of study, accumulate field-specific skills and receive noisy signals of match quality to these fields. Distinguishing between educational regimes with early and late specialization, I derive comparative static predictions about the likelihood of switching to an occupation that is unrelated to one's field of study. If higher education serves mainly to provide specific skills, the model predicts more switching in a regime with late specialization because the cost of switching is lower in terms of foregone skills. Using survey and administrative data on university graduates, I find that individuals from Scotland, where specialization occurs relatively late, are less likely to switch to an unrelated occupation compared to their English counterparts who specialize early. This implies that the benefits to increased match quality are sufficiently large to outweigh the greater loss in skills from specializing early, and thus confirms the important role of higher education in helping students discover their own tastes and talents.
    JEL: J24
    Date: 2009–11
  2. By: Bandiera, Oriana; Larcinese, Valentino; Rasul, Imran
    Abstract: Over the last decade, many countries have experienced dramatic increases in university enrolment, which, when not matched by compensating increases in other inputs, have resulted in larger class sizes. Using administrative records from a leading UK university, we present evidence on the effects of class size on students' test scores. We observe the same student and faculty members being exposed to a wide range of class sizes from less than 10 to over 200. We therefore estimate non-linear class size effects controlling for unobserved heterogeneity of both individual students and faculty. We find that -- (i) at the average class size, the effect size is -.108; (ii) the effect size is however negative and significant only for the smallest and largest ranges of class sizes and zero over a wide range of intermediate class sizes; (iii) students at the top of the test score distribution are more affected by changes in class size, especially when class sizes are very large. We present evidence to rule out class size effects being due solely to the non-random assignment of faculty to class size, sorting by students onto courses on the basis of class size, omitted inputs, the difficulty of courses, or grading policies. The evidence also shows the class size effects are not mitigated for students with greater knowledge of the UK university system, this university in particular, or with greater family wealth.
    Keywords: class size; heterogeneity; university education
    JEL: A20 D23 I23
    Date: 2009–10
  3. By: Thomas Dee; Brian Jacob
    Abstract: The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act compelled states to design school-accountability systems based on annual student assessments. The effect of this Federal legislation on the distribution of student achievement is a highly controversial but centrally important question. This study presents evidence on whether NCLB has influenced student achievement based on an analysis of state-level panel data on student test scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The impact of NCLB is identified using a comparative interrupted time series analysis that relies on comparisons of the test-score changes across states that already had school-accountability policies in place prior to NCLB and those that did not. Our results indicate that NCLB generated statistically significant increases in the average math performance of 4th graders (effect size = 0.22 by 2007) as well as improvements at the lower and top percentiles. There is also evidence of improvements in 8th grade math achievement, particularly among traditionally low-achieving groups and at the lower percentiles. However, we find no evidence that NCLB increased reading achievement in either 4th or 8th grade.
    JEL: H52 I20 I21 I28 J01 J08 J18
    Date: 2009–11
  4. By: Becker, Sascha O. (University of Stirling); Hornung, Erik (Ifo Institute for Economic Research); Woessmann, Ludger (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)
    Abstract: Existing evidence, mostly from British textile industries, rejects the importance of formal education for the Industrial Revolution. We provide new evidence from Prussia, a technological follower, where early-19th-century institutional reforms created the conditions to adopt the exogenously emerging new technologies. Our unique school-enrollment and factory-employment database links 334 counties from pre-industrial 1816 to two industrial phases in 1849 and 1882. Controlling extensively for pre-industrial development, we use pre-industrial education as an instrument to identify variation in later education that is exogenous to industrialization itself. We find that basic education significantly accelerated non-textile industrialization in both phases of the Industrial Revolution.
    Keywords: human capital, industrialization, Prussian economic history
    JEL: N13 N33 I20 O14
    Date: 2009–11
  5. By: Kruger, Diana (Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Chile); Berthelon, Matias (Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Chile); Navia, Rodrigo (Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Chile)
    Abstract: We analyze the determinants of adolescent motherhood and its subsequent effect on high school attendance and completion in Chile. Using eight rounds of household surveys, we find that adolescents who were born to teen mothers, those that live in poor households and in single-mother families, are more likely to have children, while access to full-time high schools reduces the likelihood of motherhood. We then estimate the effect of adolescent motherhood on the probability of high school attendance and completion. Using an instrumental variables approach to control for possible endogeneity between teen pregnancy and schooling, we find that being a mother reduces the probability of high school attendance and completion by 24 to 37 percent, making it the most important determinant of high school desertion, which implies that policies aimed at reducing early childbearing will have immediate, important effects on their school attainments.
    Keywords: adolescent motherhood, high school completion, high school desertion, Chile
    JEL: J13 O12 O15
    Date: 2009–11
  6. By: Kruger, Diana (Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Chile); Berthelon, Matias (Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Chile)
    Abstract: We analyze the effect of a Chilean school reform that lengthened the school day from half to full-day shifts on the likelihood that adolescent girls become mothers. By increasing the number of hours spent in school, the reform curtails opportunities to engage in risky sexual behaviors. Using Chile's socio-economic household surveys and administrative data from the Ministry of Education from 1990–2006, we exploit the exogenous time and regional variation in the implementation of the reform to identify the effects of increased education and adult supervision on the likelihood that adolescent girls become mothers. We find that access to full-day schools reduces the probability of becoming an adolescent mother among poor families and in urban areas: an increase in full-day municipal enrollment of 20% reduces the likelihood of teen motherhood by 5%.
    Keywords: adolescent motherhood, adolescent pregnancy, school day reform, Chile
    JEL: H51 I18 I28 J13 O15
    Date: 2009–11
  7. By: Francesco Giavazzi; Pietro Garibaldi; Andrea Ichino; Enrico Rettore
    Abstract: University tuition typically remains constant throughout years of enrollment while delayed degree completion is an increasing problem for many academic institutions around the world. Theory suggests that if continuation tuition were raised the probability of late graduation would be reduced. Using a Regression Discontinuity Design on data from Bocconi University in Italy, we show that an increase of 1,000 euro in continuation tuition reduces the probability of late graduation by 9.9 percentage points with respect to a benchmark average probability of 80%. We conclude suggesting that an upward sloping tuition profile would be desirable when effort is sub-optimally supplied, for instance in the presence of public subsidies to education, congestion externalities and/or peer effects.
    Date: 2009
  8. By: Simon Burgess (CMPO, University of Bristol); Ellen Greaves (CMPO, University of Bristol); Anna Vignoles (DoQSS, Institute of Education, University of London); Deborah Wilson (CMPO, University of Bristol)
    Abstract: Parental demand for academic performance is a key element in the view that strengthening school choice will drive up school performance. In this paper we analyse what parents look for in choosing schools. We assemble a unique dataset combining survey information on parents' choices plus a rich set of socio-economic characteristics; administrative data on school characteristics, admissions criteria and allocation rules; and spatial data attached to a pupil census to define the de facto set of schools available to each family in the survey. To achieve identification, we focus on cities where the school place allocation system is truth-revealing ("equal preferences"). We take great care in trying to capture the set of schools that each family could realistically choose from. We also look at a large subset of parents who continued living in the same house as before the child was born, to avoid endogenous house/school moves. We then model the choices made in terms of the characteristics of schools and families and the distances involved. School characteristics include measures of academic performance, school socio-economic and ethnic composition, and its faith school status. Initial results showed strong differences in the set of choices available to parents in different socio-economic positions. Our central analysis uses multinomial logistic regression to show that families do indeed value academic performance in schools. They also value school composition -- preferring schools with low fractions of children from poor families. We compute trade-offs between these characteristics as well as between these and distance travelled. We are able to compare these trade-offs for different families. Our results suggest that preferences do not vary greatly between different socio-economic groups once constraints are fully accounted for.
    Keywords: school preferences, school choice, parental choice
    JEL: I20
    Date: 2009–11–16
  9. By: Mogstad, Magne (Statistics Norway); Wiswall, Matthew (New York University)
    Abstract: Many empirical studies specify outcomes as a linear function of endogenous regressors when conducting instrumental variable (IV) estimation. We show that tests for treatment effects, selection bias, and treatment effect heterogeneity are biased if the true relationship is non-linear. These results motivate a re-examination of recent evidence suggesting no causal effect of family size on children's education. Following common practice, a linear IV estimator has been used, assuming constant marginal effects of additional children across family sizes. We find that the conclusion of no effect of family size is an artifact of the linear specification, which masks substantial marginal family size effects.
    Keywords: instrumental variables, variable treatment intensity, treatment effect heterogeneity, selection bias, quantity-quality, family size, child outcome
    JEL: C31 C14 J13
    Date: 2009–11
  10. By: Paul J. Devereux (School of Economics and Geary Institute UCD, CEPR and IZA); Robert A. Hart (Department of Economics, University of Stirling and IZA)
    Abstract: Do students benefit from compulsory schooling? In an important article, Oreopoulos (2006) studied the 1947 British compulsory schooling law change and found large returns to schooling of about 15% using the General Household Survey (GHS). Reanalysing this dataset, we find much smaller returns of about 3% on average with no evidence of any positive return for women and a return for men of 4-7%. Additionally, we utilize the New Earnings Survey Panel Data-set (NESPD) that has earnings information superior to that in the GHS and find similar estimates: zero returns for women and returns of 3 to 4% for men.
    Date: 2009–11–18
  11. By: Daniel L. Millimet; Rusty Tchernis
    Abstract: While the rise in childhood obesity is clear, the policy ramifications are not. School nutrition programs such as the School Breakfast Program (SBP) have come under much scrutiny. However, the lack of experimental evidence, combined with non-random selection into these programs, makes identification of the causal effects of such programs difficult. In the case of the SBP, this difficulty is exacerbated by the apparent lack of exclusion restrictions. Here, we compare via Monte Carlo study several existing estimators that do not rely on exclusion restrictions for identification. In addition, we propose two new estimation strategies. Simulations illustrate the usefulness of our new estimators, as well as provide applied researchers several practical guidelines when analyzing the causal effects of binary treatments. More importantly, we find consistent evidence of a beneficial causal effect of SBP participation on childhood obesity when applying estimators designed to circumvent selection on unobservables.
    JEL: C21 C52 I18 J13
    Date: 2009–11

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