nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2013‒10‒02
nineteen papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
University of Beira Interior and Technical University of Lisbon

  1. Contract Teachers: Experimental Evidence from India By Karthik Muralidharan; Venkatesh Sundararaman
  2. Home or away? Gender differences in the effects of an expansion of tertiary education supply By Lucia Rizzica
  3. Student Satisfaction, League Tables and University Applications By Stephen Gibbons; Eric Neumayer; Richard Perkins
  4. The impact of microcredit on child education: quasi-experimental evidence from rural China By Jing You; Samuel Annim
  5. Instruction Time, Classroom Quality, and Academic Achievement By Steven G. Rivkin; Jeffrey C. Schiman
  6. Education Policy and Intergenerational Transfers in Equilibrium By Brant Abbott; Giovanni Gallipoli; Costas Meghir; Gianluca Violante
  7. A Bird's Eye View of Gender Differences in Education in OECD Countries By Angelica Salvi del Pero; Alexandra Bytchkova
  8. Managing the Online Learning Revolution in an MBA course: Quality Assurance through Strategic Development By Richard K. Ladyshewsky; Werner Soontiens
  9. Student loans and the allocation of graduate jobs By Alessandro Cigno; Annalisa Luporini
  10. The effect of school resources on test scores in England By Cheti Nicoletti; Birgitta Rabe
  11. The Importance of Rank Position By Richard Murphy; Felix Weinhardt
  12. Family Impacts on Cognitive Development of Young Children: Evidence from Australia By Jessica Meredith; Frank Neri; Joan Rodgers
  13. Improving School-to-work Transitions in New Zealand By Alexandra Bibbee
  14. What determines students’ choices of elective modules? By Mary R Hedges; Gail A Pacheco; Don J webber
  15. Addressing Teacher Shortages in Disadvantaged Schools: Lessons from Two Institute of Education Sciences Studies. By Melissa Clark; Sheena McConnell; Jill Constantine; Hanley Chiang
  16. The Effectiveness of Secondary Math Teachers from Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows Programs. By Melissa A. Clark; Hanley S. Chiang; Tim Silva; Sheena McConnell; Kathy Sonnenfeld; Anastasia Erbe; Michael Puma
  17. How should economics curricula be evaluated? By Andrew Mearman
  18. Why do students study economics? By Andrew Mearman; Aspasia Papa; Don J. Webber
  19. Small Differences that Matter: Mistakes in Applying to College By Amanda Pallais

  1. By: Karthik Muralidharan; Venkatesh Sundararaman
    Abstract: The large-scale expansion of primary schooling in developing countries has led to the increasing use of non-civil-service contract teachers who are locally-hired from the same village as the school, are not professionally trained, have fixed-term renewable contracts, and are paid much lower salaries than regular civil-service teachers. This has been a controversial policy, but there is limited evidence on the effectiveness of contract teachers in improving student learning. We present experimental evidence on the impact of contract teachers using data from an ‘as is’ expansion of contract-teacher hiring across a representative sample of 100 randomly-selected government-run rural primary schools in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. At the end of two years, students in schools with an extra contract teacher performed significantly better than those in comparison schools by 0.16σ and 0.15σ, in math and language tests respectively. Contract teachers were also much less likely to be absent from school than civil-service teachers (18% vs. 27%). Using the experimental variation in school-level pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) induced by the provision of an extra contract teacher, we estimate that reducing PTR by 10% using a contract teacher would increase test scores by 0.03σ/year. Using high-quality panel data over five years we estimate that the corresponding gain to reducing PTR by 10% using a regular civil-service teacher would be 0.02σ/year. Thus, in addition to finding that contract teachers are effective at improving student learning outcomes, we find that they are no less effective than regular civil-service teachers who are more qualified, better trained, and paid five times higher salaries.
    JEL: I21 M55 O15
    Date: 2013–09
  2. By: Lucia Rizzica (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: The aim of this paper is to estimate the effects of the expansion of tertiary education supply on the educational choices of young Italian high school graduates. A quasi-experimental setting given by the reform of the tertiary education system implemented in 2001 is exploited. The reform was embraced at different points in time and to different degrees: it created significant changes in local educational supply in certain provinces while being only marginally relevant in others. This geographical variation is exploited through a diff-in-diff strategy to estimate the impact of the increase in tertiary education supply on enrolment and the mobility decisions of high school graduates. Major gender differences emerge: the increase of local tertiary education supply generated a significant increase in female enrolment rates leaving unchanged those of males; men, on the other hand, switched from studying outside their province of residence to studying at the local university. These results would suggest the existence of a relationship of substitutability between studying away from home and studying at the local university for boys, but not for girls.
    Keywords: human capital, tertiary education, gender, evaluation of education reform
    JEL: H52 I23 I28 J24
    Date: 2013–06
  3. By: Stephen Gibbons; Eric Neumayer; Richard Perkins
    Abstract: We investigate the impact of information about student satisfaction on university choice, using data from the UK's National Student Survey (NSS) and on applications to undergraduate degree courses. We show that the NSS has a small, statistically significant effect on applications at the university-subject level. This effect operates primarily through the influence of the NSS scores on a university's position in separately published, subject-specific, league tables, implying greater salience of league table rankings. The impact of rankings is greater amongst the most able students, for universities with entry standards in the upper-middle tier, and for subject-departments facing more competition.
    Keywords: Student satisfaction, higher education, information, university choice
    JEL: I2 D8
    Date: 2013–09
  4. By: Jing You; Samuel Annim
    Abstract: Abstract This paper assesses causal effects of formal microcredit on children’s educational outcomes by using household panel data (2000 and 2004) in a poor province of northwest rural China. The unobservables between borrowers and non-borrowers are controlled in static and dynamic regression-discontinuity designs. The static analysis reveals significant positive impact of microcredit on children’s schooling years (captured by late entry, failed grades and suspended schooling from time to time) in 2000 only, and no indication of influence on academic performance for both rounds of survey. The dynamic analysis shows progressive treatment effects of microcredit on both longer schooling years and higher average scores. Formal microcredit appears to improve education in the longer term compared to the short term, and hence may have potential in relaxing the grip of educational poverty traps.
    Date: 2013
  5. By: Steven G. Rivkin; Jeffrey C. Schiman
    Abstract: Many countries, American jurisdictions and charter schools have recently embraced longer school days or more time devoted to core academic classes. Recent research generally supports the notion that additional time raises achievement, though difficulties isolating an exogenous source of variation raise questions about the strength of much of the evidence. Moreover, it seems likely that the magnitude of any causal link between achievement and instruction time depends upon the quality of instruction, the classroom environment, and the rate at which students translate classroom time into added knowledge. In this paper we use panel data methods to investigate the pattern of instruction time effects in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) data. The empirical analysis shows that achievement increases with instruction time and that the increase varies by both amount of time and classroom environment. These results indicate that school circumstances are important determinants of the likely benefits and desirability of increased instruction time.
    JEL: I21 I24 I25 I28
    Date: 2013–09
  6. By: Brant Abbott (University of British Columbia); Giovanni Gallipoli (University of British Columbia); Costas Meghir (Yale University, IFS and NBER); Gianluca Violante (New York University, CEPR and NBER)
    Abstract: This paper compares partial and general equilibrium effects of alternative financial aid policies intended to promote college participation. We build an overlapping generations life-cycle, heterogeneous-agent, incomplete-markets model with education, labor supply, and consumption/saving decisions. Altruistic parents make inter vivos transfers to their children. Labor supply during college, government grants and loans, as well as private loans, complement parental transfers as sources of funding for college education. We find that the current financial aid system in the U.S. improves welfare, and removing it would reduce GDP by two percentage points in the long-run. Any further relaxation of government-sponsored loan limits would have no salient effects. The short-run partial equilibrium effects of expanding tuition grants (especially their need-based component) are sizeable. However, long-run general equilibrium effects are 3-4 times smaller. Every additional dollar of government grants crowds out 20-30 cents of parental transfers.
    Keywords: Education, Financial Aid, Inter vivos Transfers, Credit Constraints, Equilibrium
    JEL: E24 I22 J23 J24
    Date: 2013–09
  7. By: Angelica Salvi del Pero; Alexandra Bytchkova
    Abstract: This paper presents an overview of gender differences in education outcomes in OECD countries. A rich set of indicators describes the improvement of educational attainment among women over the past decades, and various dimensions of male under-performance in education. Possible explanatory factors include incentives provided by changing employment opportunities for women, demographic trends, as well as the higher sensitivity of boys to disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. Gender differences in field of study and in performance by subject are found to be related to attitudes and self-perceptions towards academic subjects, which are in turn influenced by social norms. A number of policy options to address gender gaps are presented in the final section of the paper. Ce document présente un aperçu des différences entre garçons et filles dans les résultats scolaires des pays de l’OCDE. Les indicateurs utilisés décrivent l’amélioration du niveau d’instruction des femmes au cours des dernières décennies et les différents domaines dans lesquels les garçons obtiennent des résultats inférieurs par rapport aux filles. Parmi les explications avancées figurent les politiques encourageant les opportunités d’emploi pour les femmes, les tendances démographiques ainsi que la vulnérabilité accrue des garçons issus de milieux socio-économiques défavorisés. Les différences entre hommes et femmes dans le domaine des études et dans les résultats scolaires par discipline tiennent aux mentalités et à l’autoperception des disciplines, et sont elles-mêmes influencées par les normes sociales. La dernière section du document présente un certain nombre de mesures pouvant combler les disparités entre hommes et femmes.
    Keywords: PISA, college major, student performance, attitudes, gender, education attainment
    JEL: I21 I23 I28 J16
    Date: 2013–09–05
  8. By: Richard K. Ladyshewsky (Curtin Graduate School of Business, Curtin University, Australia); Werner Soontiens (Curtin Graduate School of Business, Curtin University, Australia)
    Abstract: As online education becomes more commonplace so does the competition for students and the concomitant need to keep up with technology and best practice. In an environment where massive open online courses (MOOCs) are proving to be a disruptive innovation to university education the impact is shifting the boundaries of online delivery and revolutionising online learning. Despite its rapid rise and relative populist approach there remain uncertainties around notions of student performance, the student experience and overall aspects of academic quality assurance of MOOCs. This is particularly important in a higher education environment characterised by regulatory requirements and driven by international accreditation, both of which tend to apply an increased scrutiny on the delivery of online education. In the business education sphere this appears to culminate in the global MBA market that may soon see direct competition from MOOC providers. This paper considers an approach taken to manage academic quality assurance and delivery of an online MBA course, mostly delivered in an asynchronous environment. It discusses the strategic intent and subsequent steps taken to operationalize its various components. Key elements of the plan include the allocation of staff resources including the appointment of an academic online MBA program leader and a dedicated instructional design team. In addition, a range of support mechanisms and instruments were developed and made available to online instructors to facilitate both the development of the required skillset and continuous improvements. The strategic approach pivots around the development and implementation of quality assurance (QA) mechanisms and audits, over and above the existing QA measures used for face to face delivery such as course reviews and an extensive student feedback mechanism. The additional audits on ‘course delivery against strategic plan’ and ‘instructor engagement’ ensure the implementation of a threshold for online course delivery, facilitates the roll-out of good practice across the program and allows for remedial actions when required. In addition, the online delivery is supported by an electronic lounge in an effort to establish an MBA wide community. It appears that a strategic approach to the delivery of online university education, particularly with an embedded focus on academic quality assurance has not only contributed to the development of a structured and systematic approach and skillset for online instructors but likewise delivered desired outcomes. Ultimately, the education revolution seems to have taken another quantum leap forward, and a focus on quality assurance can only bode well for any provider, particularly when product differentiation becomes crucial.
    Date: 2013–09
  9. By: Alessandro Cigno; Annalisa Luporini
    Abstract: In an economy where graduate jobs are allocated by a matching tournament, and some of the potential participants cannot borrow against their expected future earnings, the government can increase efficiency and ex ante equity by redistributing wealth or, if that is not possible, by borrowing wholesale and lending to potential participants. Both policies replace some of the less able rich with some of the more able poor and bring education investments closer to their first-best levels.
    Keywords: higher education, matching tournaments, credit JEL codes: C78, D82, I22, J24
    Date: 2013
  10. By: Cheti Nicoletti; Birgitta Rabe
    Abstract: We analyze the effect of school expenditure on children's test scores at age 16 by means of an education production model. By using unique register data of English pupils, we exploit the availability of test scores across time, subjects and siblings to control for various sources of input omission and measurement error bias. We overcome one of the main criticisms against the value-added model by proposing a novel method to control for the endogeneity of the lagged test. We find evidence of a positive but small effect of per pupil expenditure on test scores.
    Keywords: Education production function,cognitive achievements,child development JEL codes: I22, I24
    Date: 2013
  11. By: Richard Murphy; Felix Weinhardt
    Abstract: We find an individual's rank within their reference group has effects on later objective outcomes. To evaluate the impact of local rank, we use a large administrative dataset tracking over two million students in England from primary through to secondary school. Academic rank within primary school has sizable, robust and significant effects on later achievement in secondary school, conditional on national test scores. Moreover we find boys gain four times more in later test scores from being top compared to girls. We provide evidence for a mechanism using matched survey data, which shows that rank affects an individual's self-concept. The paper discusses other potential channels but concludes that malleable non-cognitive skills such as confidence and belief in own ability are most likely to generate these results. We put forward a basic model where rank effects costs and effort allocation when faced with multiple tasks. We believe this is the first large-scale study to show large and robust effects of rank position on objective outcomes of that have consequences in the labour market.
    Keywords: Rank, non-cognitive skills, peer effects
    JEL: I21 J24 D01
    Date: 2013–09
  12. By: Jessica Meredith (University of Wollongong); Frank Neri (University of Wollongong); Joan Rodgers (University of Wollongong)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the manner and extent to which family structure impacts upon the cognitive development of young Australian children. Our methodology draws on the standard household production model of Becker but also includes control variables emphasised by parental investment and good-parent theories of child development. We use data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) and from the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) in cross sectional, panel, instrumental variables and fixed-effects analyses. Our results suggest that the large negative effects initially associated with single parent families disappear when child characteristics and parental preferences for education are controlled for. On the other hand parental completion of Year 12 education, ‘warm’ parent-child interactions, a stress-free home environment and positive parental aspirations for their children are persistently strong determinants of the educational success of young children.
    Keywords: Family structure, child cognitive development, parental investment, good parenting practices
    JEL: I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2013
  13. By: Alexandra Bibbee
    Abstract: The NZ labour market is among the most flexible in the OECD, and outcomes for its young people have been among the best. However, labour-market opportunities are heavily determined by initial education, where New Zealand’s system is also successful and innovative in many ways. Average PISA results are among the OECD’s highest, but the dispersion of performance is also high, indicating a sizable group of underachievers. Those in disadvantaged groups tend to have poor scholastic outcomes. These initial educational handicaps show up in higher drop-out rates and youth joblessness, greatly limiting these youths’ future life chances. Indeed, intergenerational persistence in educational and employment outcomes appears very high. From both a social and economic point of view, it will be essential to develop more fully the human capital of the fast growing demographic group of ethnic minorities. Better teaching quality is needed, with more attention devoted to diversity of student needs and learning approaches to keep children in school. A related problem is the apparently large divergence between the nature of skills supplied by the education sector and the skills demanded by employers. A greater role for youth apprenticeships could help to raise skill levels while aligning them better to the economy’s needs. All this has an important bearing on the government’s ambition to secure strong and sustainable growth with rising living standards and equal opportunities for all. This Working Paper relates to the 2013 OECD Economic Survey of New Zealand ( Améliorer la transition de l'école vers l'emploi en Nouvelle-Zélande Le marché du travail néo-zélandais est l’un des plus flexibles de la zone OCDE, et l’un de ceux qui affiche les meilleurs résultats pour l’emploi des jeunes. Néanmoins, les débouchés professionnels sont largement déterminés par la formation initiale, autre domaine dans lequel la Nouvelle-Zélande se montre performante et novatrice à de nombreux égards. Les résultats moyens obtenus à l’enquête PISA font partie des plus élevés de la zone OCDE, mais la dispersion des scores est également importante, ce qui donne à penser qu’une proportion non négligeable d’élèves est en situation d’échec. De manière générale, les personnes issues d’un milieu défavorisé n’ont pas de bons résultats scolaires. Ces handicaps rencontrés au stade de la formation initiale se manifestent par des taux élevés d’abandon scolaire et de chômage chez les jeunes, qui limitent grandement leurs chances dans la vie. De fait, la persistance intergénérationnelle des résultats en matière d’éducation et d’emploi ressort comme étant très élevée. D’un point de vue économique et social, il sera essentiel de développer davantage le capital humain du groupe démographique constitué par les minorités ethniques, en croissance rapide. Il convient d’améliorer la qualité de l’enseignement, et notamment d’accorder davantage d’attention à la diversité des besoins et méthodes d’apprentissage des élèves pour les maintenir à l’école. Autre problème connexe, il semble y avoir un décalage important entre la nature des compétences acquises dans le système éducatif et de celles demandées par les employeurs. Le développement de l’apprentissage pourrait permettre d’élever les niveaux de compétences des jeunes et de les aligner plus étroitement sur les besoins de l’économie. Tout ceci aura une incidence importante sur l’ambition que s’est donnée le gouvernement d’assurer une croissance solide et durable, porteuse d’une élévation des niveaux de vie et de chances égales pour tous. Ce Document de travail se rapporte à l’Étude économique de l’OCDE de la Nouvelle-Zélande 2013 ( ande-2013.htm).
    Keywords: human capital, training, teaching quality, skills, vocational education, education funding, Maori, labour market matching, youth activation policies, youth unemployment, qualifications, youth minimum wage, tertiary education, school choice, student loans, schooling, assessments and evaluation in education, education achievement, apprenticeships, student grants, private returns to education, early childhood education, NEET, education attainment, Pasifika, careers education, achèvement des études, adéquation du marché du travail, mesures actives pour les jeunes, aides publiques pour les étudiants, qualifications, formation professionnelle, prêts étudiants, compétences, Non scolarisés, scolarisation, rendements privés de l’éducation, éducation des jeunes enfants, apprentissage, choix de l'école, financement de l'éducation, ni employés ni en formation, Maori, chômage des jeunes, îliens du Pacifique, niveau d’études, salaire minimum des jeunes, évaluation et appréciation de l’éducation, qualité de l’enseignement, formation, enseignement supérieur, capital humain
    JEL: H52 I21 I22 I24 I25 I28 J21 J23 J24 J62 J63
    Date: 2013–09–12
  14. By: Mary R Hedges (University of Auckland); Gail A Pacheco (Auckland University of Technology); Don J webber (University of the West of England, Bristol)
    Abstract: Prior literature emphasises supply side issues concerning the modularisation of university programmes such as curricula issues and enhanced learning opportunities. Comparatively little is known about the demand side, such as why students choose specific modules. This article presents an investigation that was specifically designed to improve understanding of the factors that contribute to student module choices and draws on a large primary dataset comprised of students following a wide range of majors at a new university business school.
    Keywords: banana, toast, fish
    JEL: A22
  15. By: Melissa Clark; Sheena McConnell; Jill Constantine; Hanley Chiang
    Keywords: Teacher effectiveness, teacher shortages, alternative routes to certification , Teach For America, Teaching Fellows programs, random assignment, impact evaluation
    JEL: I
    Date: 2013–09–10
  16. By: Melissa A. Clark; Hanley S. Chiang; Tim Silva; Sheena McConnell; Kathy Sonnenfeld; Anastasia Erbe; Michael Puma
    Abstract: The first large-scale, random assignment study of the effects of secondary school math teachers from Teach For America and the Teaching Fellows programs found they were as effective as, and in some cases more effective than, teachers receiving traditional certification. The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.
    Keywords: Teach For America, Teaching Fellows, Secondary Math, Teacher Effectiveness, Teacher Preparation, Alternative Routes to Certification, Impact Evaluation, Random Assignment
    JEL: I
    Date: 2013–09–10
  17. By: Andrew Mearman (University of the West of England, Bristol)
    Abstract: This paper explores the evaluation of economics curricula. It argues that the dominant approach in economics education, experimentalism, has serious limitations which render it an unsuitable evaluation method in some cases. The arguments against experimentalism are practical, ethical and also rest on a view of the world as a complex, open system in which contexts are unique and generalised regularities are unlikely. In such an environment, as often found in educational contexts, alternative methods are advisable, at least as part of a suite of approaches in a realistic, case-based, mixed-methods approach to evaluation. Thus, economics curricula should be evaluated using a method or set of methods most appropriate to the particular object case. As such, there is no single answer to the question posed.
    JEL: A20 A22 B4 B5 C80 C9
  18. By: Andrew Mearman (University of the West of England, Bristol); Aspasia Papa (University of the West of England, Bristol); Don J. Webber (University of the West of England, Bristol)
    Abstract: This paper presents a chronological, adaptive and reflective investigation into students’ perceptions of and motivations for choosing to study economics. Applications of multiple techniques to student-level primary data reveal the following. First, students’ perceptions of economics are on average somewhat negative, although there is considerable variation. Second, they regard economics as having value, in terms of providing insight, specialist knowledge, and skills of argumentation (all of which are perceived to be superior to peers). Third, they recognise the subject yields financial and other career advantages and has kudos. Fourth, they suggest that the relevance and usefulness of economics is important and consequently that excessive theorisation and a lack of practicality are problematic. These findings have considerable implications for how economics is taught, and for the nature of the subject itself.
    Keywords: Mixed-methods; UK student perceptions; Realisticness; Focus groups; Survey
    JEL: A11 A20
  19. By: Amanda Pallais
    Abstract: This paper estimates the sensitivity of students' college application decisions to a small change in the cost of sending standardized test scores to colleges. Using confidential ACT micro data, I find that when the ACT increased from three to four the number of free score reports that ACT-takers could send, the fraction of test-takers sending four reports rose substantially while the fraction sending three fell by an offsetting amount. Students simultaneously sent their scores to a wider range of colleges. Using micro data from the American Freshman Survey, two identification strategies show that ACT-takers sent more college applications and low-income ACT-takers attended more selective colleges after the cost change. The first strategy compares ACT-takers before and after the cost change, controlling for time trends and covariates, and the second estimates difference-in-difference regressions using SAT-takers as a control group. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that by inducing low-income students to attend more selective colleges, the policy change significantly increased their expected earnings. Because the cost of sending an additional (non-free) ACT score was merely $6 throughout, this sizable behavioral change is surprising and suggests that students may use simple heuristics in making their application decisions. In such a setting, small policy perturbations can have large effects on welfare.
    JEL: I21 I23 I24 J24
    Date: 2013–09

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