nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2013‒12‒20
eleven papers chosen by
Joao Carlos Correia Leitao
Universidade da Beira Interior and Universidade de Lisboa

  1. The impact of high school financial education : experimental evidence from Brazil By Bruhn, Miriam; de Souza Leao, Luciana; Legovini, Arianna; Marchetti, Rogelio; Zia, Bilal
  2. Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren By Fairlie, Robert W.; Robinson, Jonathan
  3. Does school spending matter? By Steve Gibbons; Sandra McNally
  4. Education policy, student migration, and brain gain By Haupt, Alexander; Krieger, Tim; Lange, Thomas
  5. Access to Techonology and the Transfer Function of Community Colleges: Evidence from a Field Experiment By Fairlie, Robert W.; Grunberg, Samantha H.
  6. The Quality of Public Education in Unequal Societies: The Role of Tax Institutions By Kammas, Pantelis; Litina, Anastasia; Palivos, Theodore
  7. In brief...Top of the class By Richard Murphy; Felix Weinhardt
  8. Social Mobility at the Top: Why Are Elites Self-Reproducing? By Elise S. Brezis; Joël Hellier
  9. Business Literacy and Development: Evidence From a Randomized Controlled Trial in Rural Mexico By Gabriela Calderón; Jesse M. Cunha; Giacomo De Giorgi
  10. The Simple, the Complicated, and the Complex: Educational Reform Through the Lens of Complexity Theory By Sean Snyder
  11. The status of teachers By Peter Dolton

  1. By: Bruhn, Miriam; de Souza Leao, Luciana; Legovini, Arianna; Marchetti, Rogelio; Zia, Bilal
    Abstract: This paper studies the impact of a comprehensive financial education program spanning six states, 868 schools, and approximately 20,000 high school students in Brazil through a randomized control trial. The program increased student financial knowledge by a quarter of a standard deviation and led to a 1.4 percentage point increase in saving for purchases, better likelihood of financial planning, and greater participation in household financial decisions by students."Trickle-up"impacts on parents were also significant, with improvements in parent financial knowledge, savings, and spending behavior. The study also finds evidence that the program affected students'inter-temporal preferences and attitudes.
    Keywords: Tertiary Education,Financial Literacy,Education For All,Secondary Education,Primary Education
    Date: 2013–12–01
  2. By: Fairlie, Robert W.; Robinson, Jonathan
    Abstract: Computers are an important part of modern education, yet many schoolchildren lack access to a computer at home. We test whether this impedes educational achievement by conducting the largest-ever field experiment that randomly provides free home computers to students. Although computer ownership and use increased substantially, we find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, test scores, credits earned, attendance and disciplinary actions. Our estimates are precise enough to rule out even modestly-sized positive or negative impacts. The estimated null effect is consistent with survey evidence showing no change in homework time or other "intermediate" inputs in education.
    Keywords: Social and Behavioral Sciences, education, technology, digital divide, experiment, computers
    Date: 2013–01–01
  3. By: Steve Gibbons; Sandra McNally
    Abstract: Increases in resources for schools are typically more effective in disadvantaged schools and for disadvantaged pupils. That is one of the many findings of a review by Steve Gibbons and Sandra McNally of the research evidence on the causal effects of schools' resources on pupil outcomes. In addition to assessing whether increasing the share of Britain's national income devoted to education would make much of a difference, they ask what is the ideal balance of spending between early years, primary and secondary education. They conclude that there is no compelling case to support a transfer of resources from later stages of education to early years: early years investment may offer higher returns, but the returns erode unless topped up during later phases of childhood.
    Keywords: education, school resources, government policy, pupil premium, education funding, inequality, OECD
    Date: 2013–12
  4. By: Haupt, Alexander; Krieger, Tim; Lange, Thomas
    Abstract: In this paper, we analyse how increasing student migration from a less developed to a developed country alters education policy in the developed country, and how it affects human capital and welfare in the two countries. We argue that a higher permanent migration probability, i.e., a higher probability that international students continue to stay in their host country after graduation, incentivises the host country to improve its education quality. A higher education quality in turn raises the human capital of all students, including returning students. As long as the permanent migration probability is not too large, this positive quality effect increases human capital and welfare in both the less developed country (LDC) and the developed host country. Thus, a brain gain to the LDC occurs. A decline in the taxes on labour income in the two countries can reinforce this brain gain, although the developed country then raises the tuition fees. --
    Keywords: brain gain,education,human capital,mobility,return migration
    JEL: F22 I28 H52
    Date: 2013
  5. By: Fairlie, Robert W.; Grunberg, Samantha H.
    Abstract: Access to information may represent an important barrier to learning about and ultimately transferring to 4-year colleges for low-income community college students.  This paper explores the role that access to information technology, in particular, plays in enhancing, or possibly detracting from, the transfer function of the community college.  Using data from the first-ever field experiment randomly providing free computers to students, we examine the relationships between access to home computers and enrollment in transferable courses and actual transfers to 4-year colleges.  The results from the field experiment indicate that the treatment group of students receiving free computers has a 4.5 percentage point higher probability of taking transferable courses than the control group of students not receiving free computers.  The evidence is less clear for the effects on actual transfers to 4-year colleges and the probability of using a computer to search for college information (which possibly represents one of the mechanisms for positive effects).  In both cases, point estimates are positive, but the confidence intervals are wide.  Finally, power calculations indicate that sample sizes would have to be considerably larger to find statistically significant treatment effects and reasonably precise confidence intervals given the actual transfer rate point estimates.  
    Keywords: Social and Behavioral Sciences, education, community college, transfers, technology, computers, digital divide, experiment
    Date: 2013–11–01
  6. By: Kammas, Pantelis; Litina, Anastasia; Palivos, Theodore
    Abstract: This paper examines the effect of income inequality on the quality of public education in the presence of weak institutions and tax evasion. Our theoretical model predicts that higher level income inequality within a country leads to lower quality of public education and that this effect is diminishing on the quality of institutions. The effect of inequality operates via two channels, namely via an impact on the resources allocated to public education and via an impact on the number of individuals participating in the public schooling scheme. Exploiting variations in the levels of inequality and governance across countries, the empirical analysis confirms the theoretical predictions.
    Keywords: Quality of Public Education, Income Inequality, Tax Evasion.
    JEL: D63 H26 I2
    Date: 2013–12–13
  7. By: Richard Murphy; Felix Weinhardt
    Abstract: Boys may be better off not going to the school with high-performing peers, according to research by Richard Murphy and Felix Weinhardt, which explores how much impact there is on later confidence and exam results from where a child ranks in primary school. They find that being ranked in the top quarter of your primary school peers as opposed to the bottom quarter improves later test scores by twice as much as being taught by a highly effective teacher for one year (with boys four times more affected by being top of the class than girls). Non-cognitive skills such as confidence, perseverance and resilience have big effects on achievement.
    Keywords: Rank, non-cognitive skills, peer effects
    JEL: I21 J24 D01
    Date: 2013–12
  8. By: Elise S. Brezis (Bar-Ilan University); Joël Hellier
    Abstract: This paper proposes an explanation for the decrease in social mobility that has occurred in the last two decades in a number of advanced economies, as well as for the divergence in mobility dynamics across countries. Within an intergenerational framework, we show that a two-tier higher education system with standard and elite universities generates social stratification, high social immobility and self-reproduction of the elite. Moreover, we show that the higher the relative funding for elite universities, the higher the elite self-reproduction, and the lower social mobility. We also analyse the impacts of changes in the weight of the elite and of the middle class upon social mobility. Our findings provide theoretical bases for the inverted-U profile of social mobility experienced in several countries since World War II and to the ‘Great Gatsby Curve’ relating social mobility to inequality.
    Keywords: Elite, Higher Education, Selection, Social mobility, Social stratification
    JEL: I21 J62 O15 Z13
    Date: 2013–12
  9. By: Gabriela Calderón; Jesse M. Cunha; Giacomo De Giorgi
    Abstract: A large share of the poor in developing countries run small enterprises, often earning low incomes. This paper explores whether the poor performance of businesses can be explained by a lack of basic business skills. We randomized the offer of a free, 48-hour business skills course to female entrepreneurs in rural Mexico. We find that those assigned to treatment earn higher profits, have larger revenues, serve a greater number of clients, are more likely to use formal accounting techniques, and more likely to be registered with the government. Indirect treatment effects on those entrepreneurs randomized out of the program, yet living in treatment villages, are economically meaningful, yet imprecisely measured. We present a simple model of experience and learning that helps interpret our results, and consistent with the theoretical predictions, we find that “low-quality” entrepreneurs are the most likely to quit their business post-treatment, and that the positive impacts of the treatment are increasing in entrepreneurial quality.
    Keywords: business literacy, development, entrepreneurship
    JEL: C93 I25 O12 O14
    Date: 2013–12
  10. By: Sean Snyder
    Abstract: This paper explores the nature of complexity theory and its applications for educational reform. It briefly explains the history of complexity theory and identifies the key concepts of complex adaptive systems, and then moves on to define the differences between simple, complicated, and complex approaches to educational reform. Special attention is given to work currently underway in the fields of healthcare, emergency management and ecology that draws on complexity theory to build more resilient and robust response systems capable of adapting to changing needs and of identifying key pressure points in the system. Finally, this paper presents several examples of educational reform programmes undertaken worldwide that have implemented complexity theory principles to achieve positive results. It also recommends involving multiple stakeholders across the different levels of governance structure, increasing lateral knowledge-sharing between schools and districts, and transforming policy interventions to bring greater flexibility to the reform process. This move toward feedback-driven adaptive reform allows for better targeting of programmes to specific contexts and may prove a key way forward for educational policymakers.
    Date: 2013–12–12
  11. By: Peter Dolton
    Abstract: Governments that are serious about attracting the best people to work in their state education systems must look not only at the salaries they offer but also at the social standing of teachers. That is the conclusion of Peter Dolton, who has conducted the first global comparison of teachers' status in society. We will only attract the brightest graduates into teaching if it is seen as both a highly paid and high status profession, he says. At the heart of a country's social attitudes towards teachers is the question: would you encourage your own child to become a teacher?
    Date: 2013–12

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