nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2011‒08‒29
thirteen papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
University of Beira Interior and Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Dressed for Success? The Effect of School Uniforms on Student Achievement and Behavior By Elisabetta Gentile; Scott A. Imberman
  2. Economic Returns to Education: What We Know, What We Don't Know, and Where We Are Going – Some Brief Pointers By Harmon, Colm P.
  3. Do Guns Displace Books? – The Impact of Compulsory Military Service on Educational Attainment By Thomas K. Bauer; Stefan Bender; Alfredo R. Paloyo; Christoph M. Schmidt
  4. WP 108 - A deeper insight into the ethnic make-up of school cohorts. Diversity and school achievement By Virginia Maestri
  5. Improving Access and Quality in the Indian Education System By Sam Hill; Thomas Chalaux
  6. Explaining Charter School Effectiveness By Joshua D. Angrist; Parag A. Pathak; Christopher R. Walters
  7. Education and Invention By Toivanen, Otto; Väänänen, Lotta
  8. Inequality of opportunity in educational achievement in Latin America: Evidence from PISA 2006-2009 By Luis Fernando Gamboa; Fábio D. Waltenberg
  9. The Miseducation of Latin American Girls: Poor Schooling Makes Pregnancy a Rational Choice By Emma Näslund-Hadley; Georgina Binstock
  10. The Impact of Funding on Research Collaboration: Evidence from Argentina By Diego Ubfal; Alessandro Maffioli
  11. Education and conflict recovery : the case of Timor Leste By Justino, Patricia; Leone, Marinella; Salardi, Paola
  12. Schools choices of foreign youth in Italian territorial areas By Paola Bertolini; Valentina Toscano; Linda Tosarelli
  13. Child mental health and educational attainment: multiple observers and the measurement error problem By David Johnston; Propper, Carol; Pudney, Stephen; Shields, Michael

  1. By: Elisabetta Gentile; Scott A. Imberman
    Abstract: Uniform use in public schools is rising, but we know little about how they affect students. Using a unique dataset from a large urban school district in the southwest United States, we assess how uniforms affect behavior, achievement and other outcomes. Each school in the district determines adoption independently, providing variation over schools and time. By including student and school fixed-effects we find evidence that uniform adoption improves attendance in secondary grades, while in elementary schools they generate large increases in teacher retention.
    JEL: I21
    Date: 2011–08
  2. By: Harmon, Colm P. (University College Dublin)
    Abstract: The estimation of the economic return to education has perhaps been one of the predominant areas of analysis in applied economics for over 50 years. In this short note we consider some of the recent directions taken by the literature, and also some of the blockages faced by both science and policymakers in pushing forward some key issues. This serves by way of introduction to a set of papers for a special issue of the Economics of Education Review.
    Keywords: returns to education, education policy
    JEL: J08 J30 J38 C21
    Date: 2011–08
  3. By: Thomas K. Bauer; Stefan Bender; Alfredo R. Paloyo; Christoph M. Schmidt
    Abstract: Compulsory military service typically drafts young men when they are at the height of their learning ability. Thus, it can be expected to depress the demand for higher education since skill atrophy and the delayed entry into the civilian labor market reduce the returns to human-capital investments. Attending university, however, might open the possibility to avoid the draft, leading to an increase in the demand for tertiary education. To estimate the causal eff ect of conscription on the probability to obtain a university degree, we use a regression-discontinuity design that employs special regulations associated with the introduction of conscription in Germany in 1956. We estimate conscription to increase the probability of having a university degree.
    Keywords: Regression discontinuity; conscription; career interruption; skill atrophy;TS2SLS
    JEL: I28 J24
    Date: 2011–05
  4. By: Virginia Maestri (AIAS, Universiteit van Amsterdam)
    Abstract: While the share of non-native students in a class is expected to have a non positive effect on school achievement, little is said about the heterogeneity of the ethnic minority make-up. Ethnic diversity can stimulate the creativity of students, can push them to be proficient in the instructional language, can reduce the scope of ethnic identification with all its possible drawbacks, but it may also worsen social interactions among pupils and make the job of teachers more difficult. We exploit the within school cohort variation in ethnic diversity of a rich data-set about primary education in the Netherlands to investigate whether ethnic diversity matters for school achievement, for whom it matters and which can be the other mechanisms it may generate. We find that ethnic diversity has a positive impact on the test scores of minority students, especially for language skills and older students. We also find a negative relationship between ethnic diversity and the school social environment.
    Keywords: ethnic diversity; education; peer effects JEL classification: I21; I28; J15
    Date: 2011–01
  5. By: Sam Hill; Thomas Chalaux
    Abstract: Education has been given high priority by India’s central and state governments and continues to grow fast. School access has been expanded by investment in school infrastructure and recruitment of teachers. In higher education too, the number of providers continues to rise rapidly. A new law enshrining the rights of all children to free and compulsory education will further lift enrolment, bringing closer the government’s goal of universal elementary education, which comprises eight years of schooling. Nevertheless, high drop-out rates and low attendance continues to be a challenge at lower levels and enrolment at higher levels remains modest by international standards. Private sector involvement is on the rise. While it helps expand education infrastructure, particularly in higher education, access has not always been assured and the availability of student loans for higher education needs to improve. Poor learning outcomes amongst school students and mediocre higher education provision call for more effective government regulation and funding arrangements. Expanding resources will help but they need to be deployed more effectively, while incentives and professional development systems for teachers need to be strengthened. In higher education the government has proposed reforms which have the potential to bring about much-needed improvements in regulatory effectiveness. Efforts should focus on reducing micro-regulation and improving institutional autonomy, in order to stimulate innovation and diversity. Increasing the number of institutions subjected to quality assessments will be important for lifting standards across the higher education system, while reform of recruitment and promotion mechanisms could help attract and retain talent in academia.<P>Améliorer l'accès et la qualité du système éducatif indien<BR>L'éducation est l'une des grandes priorités des autorités indiennes, à l'échelon central et dans les États, et elle continue de se développer rapidement. L'accès à l'école a été élargi grâce à des investissements dans les infrastructures et au recrutement d'enseignants. Dans l'enseignement supérieur également, le nombre de prestataires continue d'augmenter à un rythme soutenu. Une nouvelle loi établissant le droit de tous les enfants à l'instruction gratuite et obligatoire va encore accroître les effectifs scolarisés dans le primaire et le premier cycle du secondaire, si bien que l'objectif de scolarisation élémentaire universelle que se sont fixé les autorités pourrait bientôt être atteint. Néanmoins, la fréquence des abandons en cours d'études et les faibles taux de fréquentation scolaire continuent de poser un problème aux niveaux inférieurs, tandis que les taux d'inscription aux niveaux supérieurs restent modestes par rapport aux normes internationales. Le secteur privé joue un rôle croissant. S'il est utile de développer les infrastructures, en particulier dans l'enseignement supérieur, l'accès aux études n'est pas toujours garanti et l'offre de prêts étudiants doit être étoffée. Les résultats insuffisants des écoliers et la qualité médiocre de l'enseignement supérieur appellent une amélioration de l'action publique et des mécanismes de financement. Augmenter les ressources est une bonne chose, mais il faudra les déployer de manière plus efficace et renforcer les systèmes d'incitations et de perfectionnement professionnel destinés aux enseignants. Dans l'enseignement supérieur, le gouvernement a proposé des réformes à même d'apporter des améliorations indispensables pour l'efficacité de la réglementation. Les efforts devraient viser avant tout à limiter la micro réglementation et à accroître l'autonomie des établissements afin de stimuler l'innovation et la diversité. Augmenter le nombre d'institutions soumises à des contrôles de qualité permettra de relever les normes dans l'ensemble du système d'enseignement supérieur, tandis qu'une réforme des modalités de recrutement et de promotion des enseignants devrait concourir à attirer et à retenir les talents dans les universités.
    Keywords: human capital, tertiary education, education policy, India, secondary education, vocational education, primary education, universities, education spending, literacy, schools, capital humain, formation professionnelle, université, politique d'éducation, Inde, dépenses d’éducation, alphabétisation, études primaires, écoles, études secondaires, études tertiaires
    JEL: H52 H75 I2 I20 I21 I22 I23 I28 J24 O10 O15 O53
    Date: 2011–07–29
  6. By: Joshua D. Angrist; Parag A. Pathak; Christopher R. Walters
    Abstract: Estimates using admissions lotteries suggest that urban charter schools boost student achievement, while charter schools in other settings do not. We explore student-level and school-level explanations for these differences using a large sample of Massachusetts charter schools. Our results show that urban charter schools boost achievement well beyond ambient non-charter levels (that is, the average achievement level for urban non-charter students), and beyond non-urban achievement in math. Student demographics explain some of these gains since urban charters are most effective for non-whites and low-baseline achievers. At the same time, non-urban charter schools are uniformly ineffective. Our estimates also reveal important school-level heterogeneity in the urban charter sample. A non-lottery analysis suggests that urban schools with binding, well-documented admissions lotteries generate larger score gains than under-subscribed urban charter schools with poor lottery records. We link the magnitude of charter impacts to distinctive pedagogical features of urban charters such as the length of the school day and school philosophy. The relative effectiveness of urban lottery-sample charters is accounted for by over-subscribed urban schools' embrace of the No Excuses approach to education.
    JEL: H75 I21 I22 I28 J24
    Date: 2011–08
  7. By: Toivanen, Otto; Väänänen, Lotta
    Abstract: Modern growth theory puts invention on the center stage. Inventions are created by individuals, raising the question: can we increase number of inventors? To answer this question, we study the causal effect of M.Sc. engineering education on invention, using data on U.S. patents’ Finnish inventors and the distance to the nearest technical university as an instrument. We find a positive effect of engineering education on the propensity to patent, and a negative OLS bias. Our counterfactual calculation suggests that establishing 3 new technical universities resulted in a 20% increase in the number of USPTO patents by Finnish inventors.
    Keywords: ability bias; citations; education; engineers; growth; innovation; invention; inventors; patents
    JEL: I21 J24 O31
    Date: 2011–08
  8. By: Luis Fernando Gamboa (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia); Fábio D. Waltenberg (Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil)
    Abstract: We assess inequality of opportunity in educational achievement in six Latin American countries, employing two waves of PISA data (2006 and 2009). By means of a non-parametric approach using a decomposable inequality index, GE(0), we rank countries according to their degree of inequality of opportunity. We work with alternative characterizations of types: school type (public or private), gender, parental education, and combinations of those variables. We calculate ?incremental contributions? of each set of circumstances to inequality. We provide rankings of countries based on unconditional inequalities (using conventional indices) and on conditional inequalities (EOp indices), and the two sets of rankings do not always coincide. Inequality of opportunities ranges from less than 1% to up to 27%, with substantial heterogeneity according to the year, the country, the subject and the specification of circumstances. Robustness checks based on bootstrap and the use of an alternative index confirm most of the initial results.
    Keywords: Inequality of Opportunity, economics of education, Latin America.
    JEL: D63 O15
    Date: 2011
  9. By: Emma Näslund-Hadley; Georgina Binstock
    Abstract: Our interest in understanding the determinants of adolescent childbearing and how adolescent childbearing influences educational trajectories derive from a concern about the inverse relationship between educational outcomes and adolescent fertility. Through in-depth interviews with 118 women, we contrast the educational trajectories of adolescent and adult childbearers in urban neighborhoods in Paraguay and Peru. The findings suggest that adolescents who face obstacles that discourage academic achievement and high aspirations in life are also more likely to bear children.
    Keywords: Education
    Date: 2011–01
  10. By: Diego Ubfal; Alessandro Maffioli
    Abstract: In this paper, we evaluate the impact of research grants on the amount of collaboration, among scientific researchers in Argentina. We find a positive and significant impact of funding on collaboration, which is measured in terms of the number of co-authors for publications in peer-reviewed journals. In particular, we find a significant impact of the grants for funded researchers both on the size of their ego network, and on their 2-step indirect links, measured by the number of direct and 1-step indirect co-authors. We also find evidence that this impact was driven by the results of funded researchers at the upper tail of the distribution of collaboration outcomes.
    Keywords: Public Sector :: Population Statistics & Information Systems, Education, Education :: Higher Education, Science & Technology, Scientific Collaboration; Social Networks; Program Evaluation; Nonparametric Difference-in-Differences Estimator; Latin America; Argentina; Development Effectiveness
    Date: 2010–09
  11. By: Justino, Patricia; Leone, Marinella; Salardi, Paola
    Abstract: The Timor Leste secession conflict lasted for 25 years. Its last wave of violence in 1999, following the withdrawal of Indonesian troops, generated massive displacement and destruction with widespread consequences for the economic and social development of the country. This paper analyzes the impact of the conflict on the level and access to education of boys and girls in Timor Leste. The authors examine the short-term impact of the 1999 violence on school attendance and grade deficit rates in 2001, and the longer-term impact of the conflict on primary school completion of cohorts of children observed in 2007. They compare the educational impact of the 1999 wave of violence with the impact of other periods of high-intensity violence during the 25 years of Indonesian occupation. The short-term effects of the conflict are mixed. In the longer term, the analysis finds a strong negative impact of the conflict on primary school completion among boys of school age exposed to peaks of violence during the 25-year long conflict. The effect is stronger for boys attending the last three grades of primary school. This result shows a substantial loss of human capital among young males in Timor Leste since the early 1970s, resulting from household investment trade-offs between education and economic survival.
    Keywords: Adolescent Health,Youth and Governance,Education For All,Primary Education,Post Conflict Reconstruction
    Date: 2011–08–01
  12. By: Paola Bertolini; Valentina Toscano; Linda Tosarelli
    Abstract: Given the deep economic and social differences of the Italian territories, the aim of the paper is to examine if there is a relationship between the territorial features of the Italian provinces and the school participation of young immigrants. The analysis focuses on the education experiences of young immigrants, especially on school participation in different levels, noting also the experiences of failure and higher education choices. The descriptive analysis of school participation and the economic-social characteristics has as objective to verify if there is a relationship between the latter and school participation. The analysis shows that the presence of foreign children in kindergarten is high and, in some regions, it is even higher than Italian children ones. Regarding the presence of immigrants in mandatory school, the turnout is above 90% in all regions. The participation rate of students in high school is commonly very low and compared with immigrants peers, the Italian school participation is widely higher. The presence of immigrant students has been analyzed considering the participation in different types of high school. In general, they prefer the vocational school. Moreover, the geographical distribution of participation in vocational schools is higher in northern region, where there is a significant industrial development and high employment rate. A statistical analysis of the determinants influencing the migrants’ choices has been made using some socio-economic indicators able to describe the economy of the different areas, especially in terms of sector-based specialization, presence of industrial districts, dynamics of labour market and households’ income. The results underline that the economic context is able to influence the individual choices; in particular the presence of manufacturing, the wealth of agriculture and the presence of schools exercise a positive influence. At the opposite, GDP per capita and agricultural orientation of the economy play a negative influence of immigrants school attendance.
    Date: 2011–03
  13. By: David Johnston; Propper, Carol; Pudney, Stephen; Shields, Michael
    Abstract: We examine the effect of survey measurement error on the empirical relationship between child mental health and personal and family characteristics, and between child mental health and educational progress. Our contribution is to use unique UK survey data that contains(potentially biased) assessments of each childs mental state from three observers (parent, teacher and child), together with expert (quasi-)diagnoses, using an assumption of optimal diagnostic behaviour to adjust for reporting bias. We use three alternative restrictions toidentify the e ect of mental disorders on educational progress. Maternal education and mental health, family income, and major adverse life events, are all signi cant in explaining child mental health, and child mental health is found to have a large in uence on educationalprogress. Our preferred estimate is that a 1-standard deviation reduction in `true latent child mental health leads to a 2-5 months loss in educational progress. We also nd a strong tendency for observers to understate the problems of older children and adolescents compared to expert diagnosis.
    Date: 2011–08–16

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