nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2011‒04‒16
ten papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
University of Beira Interior and Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Do Performance Targets Affect Behaviour? Evidence from Discontinuities in Test Scores in England By Marcello Sartarelli
  2. Identification of Causal Education Effects Using a Discontinuity in School Entry Tests: First Results from a Pilot Study By Stefan Boes; Dominik Hangartner; Lukas Schmid
  3. Educational Evaluation Schemes and Gender Gaps in Student Achievement By Torberg Falch and Linn Renée Naper
  4. Use of Digital Learning Objects to Improve Student Problem Solving Skills By Mehlhorn, Sandy; Parrott, Scott D.; Mehlhorn, Joey; Burcham, Timothy; Roberts, Jason; Smartt, Philip
  5. School inputs, household substitution, and test scores By Das, Jishnu; Dercon, Stefan; Habyarimana, James; Krishnan, Pramila; Muralidharan, Karthik; Sundararaman, Venkatesh
  6. The Killer Course Hypothesis By Gardner, Justin G.
  7. Regional Inequality of Higher Education in China and the Role of Unequal Economic Development By Frank Bickenbach; Wan-Hsin LIU
  8. The Long-term Earnings Impact of Post-secondary Education Following Job Loss By Frenette, Marc; Upward, Richard; Wright, Peter W.
  9. On the causal effect of schooling on smoking: evidence without exogeneity conditions By Stefan Boes
  10. The Impact of Trade Liberalization on the Return to Education in Vietnam: Wage versus Employment Effect By Remco H. Oostendorp; Doan Hong Quang

  1. By: Marcello Sartarelli (Department of Quantitative Social Science, Institute of Education, University of London. 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL, UK.)
    Abstract: Performance targets are ubiquitous in all areas of an individual's life such as education, jobs, sport competitions and charity donations. In this paper I assess whether meeting performance targets in tests at school has an effect on students' subsequent behaviour. This is helpful to test whether motivation and effort by students, parents and schools that the targets may induce, contribute to explain observed behaviour. I address potentially spurious correlations between test scores and behaviour by exploiting a regression discontinuity design in tests and a linked dataset of test scores and subsequent behaviour by students in compulsory education in England. I find that meeting a target that the government sets for students at age 11 has an insignificant effect on outcomes such as the probability of absence from school or of a police warning. I also find that meeting other targets for high and low ability students decreases the probability of being bullied by up to 34% with respect to the mean probability of such outcomes. The effects are heterogeneous as they vary by gender, parents' education level and type of behaviour. Overall, the research design offers a valuable test to assess unintended consequences that meeting the target or failing to meet it may lead to. The lack of a significant effect of targets on suspension and expulsion from school, as well as police warnings, suggests no adverse behavioural effect of performance targets, which is reassuring evidence on the design of tests in compulsory education. By using Probit estimates, one would conclude that meeting a target has an impact on behaviour. Regression discontinuity estimates show instead an insignificant effect at the expected target and a significant one at other targets for certain outcomes, although smaller than Probit estimates.
    Keywords: Absence, ullying, education, performance targets, police warning, regression discontinuity, suspension, test scores
    JEL: C21 I20 I21 I28
    Date: 2011–03–17
  2. By: Stefan Boes; Dominik Hangartner; Lukas Schmid
    Abstract: We use a credible regression discontinuity design to estimate causal education effects. Pupils in the Swiss education system had to pass a centrally organized exam that classified them into different levels of secondary school, and that ultimately determined their educational degree. A major feature of this exam was the local randomization around the classification threshold due to the impossibility of strategic sorting. Our preliminary results suggest large and significant effects on earnings, political interest, and attitudes toward immigrants. The extension to a wider set of data is part of ongoing research.
    Keywords: Returns to education; causality; endogeneity; regression discontinuity
    JEL: D72 I21 J15 J31
    Date: 2011–04
  3. By: Torberg Falch and Linn Renée Naper (Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
    Abstract: This paper investigates whether gender gaps in student achievement are related to evaluation schemes. We exploit different evaluations at the end of compulsory education in Norway in a difference-in-difference framework. Compared to scores at anonymously evaluated central exit exams, girls get significantly higher grades than boys when assessed by their teacher. We find no evidence that the competitiveness of the environment can explain why boys do relatively better at the exam. The gender grading gap is related to teacher characteristics. The results indicate that the teacher-student interaction during coursework favor girls in the teacher grading.
    Date: 2011–03–28
  4. By: Mehlhorn, Sandy; Parrott, Scott D.; Mehlhorn, Joey; Burcham, Timothy; Roberts, Jason; Smartt, Philip
    Abstract: Students in a traditional agriculture class were surveyed to learn their perceptions of digital learning objects created by the instructor to improve student problem solving ability. Student assignments and exam scores were compared. The students enrolled in the course with digital learning objects scored higher on exams than a similar section which did not include digital learning objects. However, student performance was mixed with regard to assignment and exam scores for the students who used the digital learning objects.
    Keywords: digital learning object, online education, Teaching/Communication/Extension/Profession,
    Date: 2011
  5. By: Das, Jishnu; Dercon, Stefan; Habyarimana, James; Krishnan, Pramila; Muralidharan, Karthik; Sundararaman, Venkatesh
    Abstract: Empirical studies of the relationship between school inputs and test scores typically do not account for the fact that households will respond to changes in school inputs. This paper presents a dynamic household optimization model relating test scores to school and household inputs, and tests its predictions in two very different low-income country settings -- Zambia and India. The authors measure household spending changes and student test score gains in response to unanticipated as well as anticipated changes in school funding. Consistent with the optimization model, they find in both settings that households offset anticipated grants more than unanticipated grants. They also find that unanticipated school grants lead to significant improvements in student test scores but anticipated grants have no impact on test scores. The results suggest that naïve estimates of public education spending on learning outcomes that do not account for optimal household responses are likely to be considerably biased if used to estimate parameters of an education production function.
    Keywords: Tertiary Education,Education For All,Access to Finance,Teaching and Learning,Disability
    Date: 2011–04–01
  6. By: Gardner, Justin G.
    Abstract: Due to recent legislative changes, universities in Tennessee will receive funding based on student retention and graduation rates rather than enrollment. In light of these changes it is important that academics in all disciplines study retention rates in order to identify areas for improvement. I investigate the impact of âkiller coursesâ on student retention both in the school of agriculture and in the general student population. In addition I explore alternative frameworks for addressing retention issues.
    Keywords: Analysis of Education, Teaching/Communication/Extension/Profession, I21,
    Date: 2011
  7. By: Frank Bickenbach; Wan-Hsin LIU
    Abstract: Over the past decade the scale of higher education in China has expanded substantially. Regional development policies attempted to make use of the scale expansion as a tool to reduce the inequality of higher education among different regions with different development levels through providing the poor regions preferential treatment and support in this regard. This paper analyses a provincial dataset (1997-2008), aiming to provide comprehensive quantitative evidence for the development of inequality of higher education opportunities across provinces in China over the period of the scale expansion, taking different sizes and economic development levels of provinces into account. Results show that the regional inequality of higher education relative to provinces’ different population sizes clearly decreased over the research period. Accompanying the reduction in overall inequality across provinces, the inequality between the poor and the rich regions actually increased over the same period. However, the increase was realised in favour of the poor region. The empirical results are consistent with the policy orientation of reforming the higher education system and of promoting regional development in China over the past decade
    Keywords: higher education, regional inequality, China, Theil index
    JEL: C43 I23 I28 R53 R58
    Date: 2011–04
  8. By: Frenette, Marc; Upward, Richard; Wright, Peter W.
    Abstract: In this study, the long-term impact on earnings of attending post-secondary education institutions following job loss is estimated using a large longitudinal administrative database of Canadian workers. A difference-in-difference model is used for this purpose. The results suggest that, over the period spanning five years preceding and nine years following job loss, workers who attended post-secondary education shortly after displacement saw their earnings increase by almost $7,000 more than displaced workers who did not. Significant benefits are found by sex, age, marital status, and union coverage, with the exception of men aged 35 to 44 years. Despite the benefits of education, job displacement is found to be associated with only a modest increase in post-secondary education attendance for all groups examined.
    Keywords: Education, training and learning, Outcomes of education, Adult education and training
    Date: 2011–03–31
  9. By: Stefan Boes
    Abstract: The paper explores weak monotonicity and convexity assumptions in a model for the decision to smoke with endogenous schooling. Theories of productive and allocative efficiency as well as the influence of time preferences are accounted for in order to derive testable constraints that bound the effect of schooling on smoking. Data from the Swiss Health Survey indicate that the degree of endogeneity depends on the level of schooling, and that schooling effects are likely heterogeneous with a reduction of the propensity to smoke by at most 5.9 percentage points.
    Keywords: Smoking; education; health behavior; nonparametric bounds
    JEL: I12 C14 C30
    Date: 2011–04
  10. By: Remco H. Oostendorp (VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands); Doan Hong Quang (World Bank Country Office, and Centre for Analysis and Forecasting (CAF), Vietnam)
    Abstract: Several studies have identified the impact of trade liberalization in developing countries on the return to education within a Mincerian framework through a difference-in-difference estimator or with industry-level measures of trade openness. These studies have typically estimated the return to education in terms of changes in wages rather than employment, effectively ignoring the fact that trade liberalization affects not only wages but also employment opportunities. In this paper we use four large-scale representative household surveys from Vietnam for the period 1998-2006 to estimate the impact of trade liberalization on the return to education taking into account both changes in wages and employment. The results show that the impact was large in Vietnam but is severely underestimated if changes in employment opportunities are ignored.
    Keywords: trade liberalization; return to education; employment; Vietnam
    JEL: F16 J21 J31 O1
    Date: 2011–03–28

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