nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2015‒08‒01
sixteen papers chosen by
João Carlos Correia Leitão
Universidade da Beira Interior

  1. The Impact of Teacher-Student Gender Matches: Random Assignment Evidence from South Korea By Jaegeum Lim; Jonathan Meer
  2. The effects of vocational education on adult skills and wages: What can we learn from PIAAC? By Giorgio Brunello; Lorenzo Rocco
  3. Food Insecurity and Educational Achievement By Angioloni, Simone; Ames, Glenn C.W.; Houston, Jack
  4. School attendance and the perceived value of formal education: Evidence from Tanzania By Gustafson, Christopher R.
  5. Fostering entrepreneurial education in Agribusiness through experiential learning By Cavicchi, Alessio; Rinaldi, Chiara; Santini, Cristina
  6. What good are skills, anyway? Estimating the returns to specific skills in a college education By Rakitan, Timothy J.; Artz, Georgeanne M.
  7. Early Math Coursework and College Readiness: Evidence from Targeted Middle School Math Acceleration By Joshua Goodman; Dougherty, Shaun; Darryl Hill; Erica Litke; Lindsay Page
  8. Weak Markets, Strong Teachers: Recession at Career Start and Teacher Effectiveness By Nagler, Markus; Piopiunik, Marc; West, Martin R.
  9. School Entry Cutoff Date and the Timing of Births By Hitoshi Shigeoka
  10. The Effect of the Energy Boom on Schooling Decisions in the U.S. By Zuo, Na; Schieffer, Jack
  11. The Effect of Healthy School Lunch Provision on Academic Test Scores By Anderson, Michael L.; Gallagher, Justin; Ramirez, Elizabeth
  12. Long Term Impacts of Vouchers for Vocational Training: Experimental Evidence for Colombia By Orazio Attanasio; Arlen Guarín; Carlos Medina; Costas Meghir
  13. The Effects of Distance Education on Agricultural Performance and Household Income: Evidence from Suburban Beijing By Guo, Jianxin; Jin, Songqing; Chen, Lei; Wang, Min; Zhang, Junfeng; Sun, Sufen
  14. The Role of Personality, Cognition and Shocks in Determining Age of Entry into Labor Market, Sector of Employment, and within Sector Earnings By Sahn, David E.; Villa, Kira M.
  15. Is Obesity Contagious? Evidence from International Graduate Students (Revised) By Katare, Bhagyashree
  16. How Well is the Relationship Between Poaching and Education Understood? By Poudel, Biswo N.; Paudel, Krishna P.

  1. By: Jaegeum Lim; Jonathan Meer
    Abstract: Gender disparities in academic performance may be driven in part by the interaction of teacher and student gender, but systematic sorting of students into classrooms makes it difficult to identify causal effects. We use the random assignment of students to Korean middle school classrooms and show that the female students perform substantially better on standardized tests when assigned to female teachers; there is little effect on male students.
    JEL: I21 I24 J16
    Date: 2015–07
  2. By: Giorgio Brunello; Lorenzo Rocco
    Abstract: Vocational education and training are highly valued by many. The European Ministers for Vocational Education and Training, the European Social Partners and the European Commission have issued in 2010 the Bruges Communiqué, which describes the global vision for VET in Europe 2020. In this vision, vocational skills and competencies are considered as important as academic skills and competencies. VET is expected to play an important role in achieving two Europe 2020 headline targets set in the education field: a) reduce the rate of early school leavers from education to less than 10 percent; b) increase the share of 30 to 40 years old having completed tertiary or equivalent education to at least 40 percent. However, there is limited hard evidence that VET can improve education and labour market outcomes. The few existing studies yield mixed results partly due to differences in the structure and quality of VET across countries. In this report we investigate the effects of VET on adult skills and labour market outcomes by using the PIAAC survey. Data comparability across countries, the breath of countries involved, and the almost unique presence of information on assessed skills, training, earnings and employment makes this survey especially valuable to study the different facets of VET as compared to more academic education. Our approach is to think of the possible education careers available to individuals as alternative treatments in a multivalued treatment framework. Focusing mainly but not exclusively on upper secondary, post-secondary and tertiary education, we assume that individuals are exposed to four alternative treatments: 1. vocational education at the upper secondary or post-secondary level; 2. academic education at the upper secondary or post-secondary level; 3. vocational education at the tertiary level; 4. academic education at the tertiary level. In most of this paper, comparisons between vocational and academic education are made at the same level of educational attainment, hence outcomes of treatment 1 (3) are compared to those of treatment 2 (4). Depending on the research question being investigated, other comparisons are possible and may deliver a different picture than the one presented here. Isolating the effect of VET courses is difficult in the absence of students’ ability at the time of entry. In this paper, we assume that the assignment of individuals to the treatments listed above is explained by parental education, country of birth, the number of books in the house at age 16 as well as the pupil/teacher ratio in primary school and the proportion of residents in rural areas at the age of selection. We discuss in the report how plausible this assumption is in the context of the data being used. This is important for the interpretation of our results. Only if this assumption holds we can treat our estimates of the effects of alternative treatments as causal effects. If it does not, a more modest interpretation is in order that views our findings as interesting correlations at best. In particular, if there are factors affecting selection into different curricula that we cannot control for with the data at hand, our estimates may still be affected by selection bias, which could amplify the estimate gap in labour market outcomes associated to alternative curricula. The results are encouraging in some ways while disappointing in others. Overall, at the ISCED 3 and 4 level, we find that VET performs about as well as academic education as far as earnings are concerned and a bit better in terms of employment outcomes. VET at the ISCED 3-4 level is also associated with higher training incidence. Finally, our findings support the view that the presence of vocational tracks helps keeping students with limited academic attitudes in school. On the other hand and despite the emphasis put on creating and/or expanding VET opportunities at the ISCED 5 level, we find a clear advantage of academic education at this level across all outcomes considered. Unsurprisingly, there are large cross-country differences in the estimates reported above, most likely explained by differences in the quality of VET instructions. For instance, there is evidence that the wage and employment returns to VET are higher in countries where the relative supply of VET graduates is lower. In these countries, skill performance by VET graduates is also better. However, in spite of the growing interest attracted by dual systems, which alternate school and work, we do not find systematic evidence that returns to VET are higher in the countries where vocational education systematically combines school and work. More specifically, at the ISCED 3-4 level, a vocational curriculum is associated to only slightly lower hourly earnings but a higher probability of being currently employed, and a higher share of the completed working life spent in paid employment. The estimated differences are small: for earnings, the negative gap ranges between -1.3 percent for males and -4.8 percent for females; for the probability of employment and the share of time spent in paid employment, the estimated positive gaps are 2.2 and 3.3 percentage points for males and 1.9 and 0.6 percentage points for females. On the other hand, the comparison between vocational and academic education is much more disappointing when we consider tertiary education (ISCED 5). In this case, the earnings gap between vocational and academic education at the time of the interview is as big as -19 percent for males and -21.7 percent for females. There is also a small negative gap in the probability of being currently employed. This gap should however be contrasted with the positive gap in the share of the working life spent in paid jobs, estimated at 6.9 percentage points in the case of males and at 3.7 percentage points in the case of females. Overall, the evidence we have on different ISCED levels suggests that vocational education does not perform as well as academic education when earnings are concerned, and performs slightly better than academic education when employability measures are considered. VET also performs less well than academic education on a number of other non-monetary outcomes. Independently of the ISCED level, we find that individuals with vocational education have a higher likelihood of being NEET (not employed and with no education or training in the past 12 months), report poorer health and have poorer civic behaviour than comparable individuals with academic education. There is also evidence that vocational education is associated to poorer labour market returns among older than younger cohorts. Whether these differences simply reflect cohort effects or also indicate the presence of age effects is impossible to tell with the data at hand, which are a cross section of individuals. This issue is important but must be left to better data and further research. When we consider the proficiency in foundation skills we find individuals with vocational education to be less proficient than those with academic education, for any ISCED level. This is true for both genders and, in spite of some heterogeneity, for all countries. The negative gap is larger for those with tertiary education and increases with the country-specific share of vocational students. In particular, we estimate that the negative percentage gap associated to vocational education at the secondary or post-secondary level ranges from -2.0 to -2.2 percent for literacy, from -1.9 to -2.9 percent for numeracy and from -1.8 to -2.3 for problem solving skills. In the case of tertiary education, the negative gap is larger and ranges from -5.7 to -5.9 for literacy, from -6.7 to -7 percent for numeracy and from -4.4 to -4.7 percent for problem solving skills. We also find that the relationship between initial vocational education and training and continuing vocational education and training varies with the level of education. When we consider upper secondary or post-secondary education, there is evidence that VET is associated with higher training incidence. The estimated positive gap with respect to academic education ranges from 2.4 percentage points for females to 4.0 percentage points for males. When we focus instead on tertiary education, the evidence suggests that those who have completed vocational curricula have on average a much lower investment in further training than those with an academic curriculum. In this case, the estimated negative gap is close to 10 percentage points. These results hold for both genders, even when we distinguish between on-the-job and off-the-job training. Interestingly, the negative effect of a vocational curriculum is larger in absolute value in countries with higher employment protection. Finally, we compare the labour market outcomes and the current skills of individuals who have completed upper secondary or post-secondary vocational education and individuals who have completed at most lower secondary education (ISCED 2). It is often said that the presence of vocational tracks helps keeping students with limited academic attitudes in school. Our empirical evidence shows that upper secondary VET is associated to substantially higher hourly earnings, employability and skills with respect to lower education. For males, we estimate an hourly earnings premium of 10.3 percent and an employment premium of 11.9 percentage points. VET graduates also enjoy close to 11 percent higher level of measured numeracy skills with respect to comparable individuals with at most lower secondary education. In spite of spending more time at school than the latter, the former also end up spending a higher percentage of time in paid employment.
    JEL: I21 I28 J01 J08 J24
    Date: 2015–07–29
  3. By: Angioloni, Simone; Ames, Glenn C.W.; Houston, Jack
    Abstract: This paper investigates the educational achievement for the 5th grade students in Georgia in 2008-2009. The paper employs spatial error regression model to control for the local correlation. The results indicate that the school performance is inversely related to the food insecurity and positively related to the racial diversity.
    Keywords: Food Security, Analysis of Education, Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology, Education and Inequality, Food Security and Poverty, Research Methods/ Statistical Methods, Q18, I210, C13, I24,
    Date: 2014
  4. By: Gustafson, Christopher R.
    Abstract: The benefits of universal primary education (UPE)—ranging from increased personal wellbeing to socially important outcomes such as lower population growth and improved maternal and child health—are widely documented, and donor organizations have invested significant amounts of money to reduce barriers to education. However, there are still many children—and girls, in particular—who do not attend school. Countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have not attained rates of primary school attendance as high as countries in other parts of the developing world. Authors of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) listed UPE in SSA as a core need for achievement of the MDGs. Economic models of educational choice have provided an important framework to think about determinants of school attendance (Becker, 1975). These determinants include benefits, such as higher wages, and costs—both the direct costs households incur in paying school attendance fees, and indirect costs to the household, such as lost labor (e.g. Glick, 2008; Handa, 2002). Pairing these theoretical models with data on school attendance has yielded important insights into decision-making. These insights have been used to guide policy (Fiszbein, Schady, & Ferreira, 2009), and school attendance rates in SSA have increased significantly over the past thirty years (Lincove, 2015). However, as attendance rates have increased, the children who are not in school tend to live increasingly in marginalized, rural communities that do not have the data necessary to understand parents’ schooling choices with the standard model. In many of these communities formal labor markets are thin or non-existent, requiring students to migrate to urban areas to take advantage of the financial benefits of increased education. Additionally, these communities are much less likely to have a history of formal education, reducing opportunities for parents to learn about benefits of education through experience or social networks. Gender disparities in school attendance are frequently also higher than in the general population, and may be due to cultural beliefs or household reliance on female labor. Cumulatively, these factors may engender more inter-household heterogeneity in the conceptualization of the benefits of education. To address gaps in the evidence, this paper introduces data on household leaders’ ideas about the positive or negative effects of education into a model of schooling choice. We collected data on current education decisions and expenditures for children (both children attending and not attending school), educational levels achieved for adults, and male and female assets and income from 196 households of three sedentarized pastoralist and agro-pastoralist tribes living in rural south-central Tanzania. Further, we gathered data separately from male and female heads of household on perceptions of the effects of education for male and female children and on whom in the household or community makes decisions about school attendance for the household’s children. We also have, among other variables, household-level data such as distance to water sources, agricultural and livestock holdings (a factor in the household’s opportunity cost of sending their children to school), and distance to school. There is marked variation in education choices among the tribes, ranging from a low of 25 percent of school-aged children (with 15 percent of them female) attending school to over half of school-aged children (and 49 percent of them female) attending school at the high end. Interestingly, the tribe investing the most in schooling is also on average the poorest in terms of livestock and agricultural holdings, which comprise the bulk of these communities’ wealth. Household leaders’ perceptions of the effects of education encompass a range of benefits and costs. Among these are beliefs that would fit with the motivations commonly assumed to be drivers of education—the ability to get a job, earn wages or a salary, or improve their (and their family’s) material standards of living. However, other households viewed education as a safeguard against exploitation (more frequently listed for females than males), as a way to help their families adapt to a changing environment, as a public good for the entire community, or as a benefit to the students’ abilities to manage the household’s livestock. A significant minority of households expressed ambivalence (“there is no value to education”) or opposition, citing the potential for moral decay, to education; non-positive sentiments tended to be expressed more frequently about educating female than male children. Using data on household composition, school attendance, and education perceptions, we estimate models of whether a household chooses to educate any students, and of the number of students currently being educated, for the entire sample and for males and females separately. Our findings confirm previous results from work on education, while adding new insights. The education levels of household leaders—and of mothers in particular—are an important determinant of children’s schooling. Households in which fathers alone make the schooling decisions educate fewer females and fewer children in general. More female income is associated with higher school attendance. New insights stem from perceptions of education. We find that perceptions of the educational benefits are important in understanding the schooling decisions. Interestingly, however, there are differential effects among the benefits. Households indicating that the opportunity to get a job and earn wages is an important benefit of education are more likely to educate children than households that do not view this as a benefit, while households stating that education is important for children to become better herders are less likely to educate children than those who think this is not an important effect. The novel integration of decision-makers’ perceptions of the benefits of education into the analysis of education choice yields interesting findings. While some of these findings support the standard assumptions of human capital accumulation models and corroborate previous findings, there are new insights into households’ educational choices that will stimulate healthy discussion about the nature of education in marginalized populations, and implications for the achievement of MDGs in SSA. References Becker, G. (1975). Human Capital. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research. Fiszbein, A., Schady, N.R., & Ferreira, F.H. (2009). Conditional cash transfers: Reducing present and future poverty. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications Glick, P. (2008). What policies will reduce gender schooling gaps in developing countries: Evidence and interpretation. World Development, 36(9), 1623–1646. Handa, S. (2002). Raising primary school enrolment in developing countries: The relative importance of supply and demand. Journal of Development Economics, 69, 103–128. Lincove, J.A. (2015). Improving identification of demand-side obstacles to schooling: Findings from revealed and state preference models in two SSA countries. World Development 66: 69-83
    Keywords: Education, Tanzania, Pastoralism, International Development, Labor and Human Capital,
    Date: 2015
  5. By: Cavicchi, Alessio; Rinaldi, Chiara; Santini, Cristina
    Abstract: This work examines the relationship between experiential learning and entrepreneurial education in the Agribusiness field. After having outlined the challenges that higher education has to meet business and students’ needs, the work outlines emerging insights from research that contributse to underline how effective could be an academic approach focused on experience. An overview of the latest development in the methodological field is presented; the paper, finally introduces the measures and initiative undertaken at the European level for promoting entrepreneurial education and initiatives by implementing experiential learning methods.
    Keywords: Agribusiness,
    Date: 2015–05
  6. By: Rakitan, Timothy J.; Artz, Georgeanne M.
    Abstract: How does the labor market reward the specific skills learned by college students? We use a novel data set that combines earnings, demographic and college transcript data for over 5,000 graduates of a large university to investigate how their skill development has been compensated during their experience in the labor market. Using student academic records to generate measures of skills acquisition in the areas of mathematics and communication, among others, we estimate the contribution of our skills acquisition measures to graduates’ later incomes. We find that, consistent with established literature, the significance of even broad categories of skills diminishes as controls are added, although female graduates experience significant returns to quantitative coursework. These results are robust to different specifications, including controlling for innate ability via proxy measures.
    Keywords: earnings, college major, specific skills, curriculum, Labor and Human Capital, J24,
    Date: 2015
  7. By: Joshua Goodman; Dougherty, Shaun; Darryl Hill; Erica Litke; Lindsay Page
    Abstract: To better prepare students for college-level math and the demands of the labor market, school systems have tried to increase the rigor of students? math coursework. The failure of universal ?Algebra for All? models has led recently to more targeted approaches. We study one such approach in Wake County, North Carolina, which began using prior test scores to assign middle school students to an accelerated math track culminating in eighth grade algebra. The policy has reduced the role that income and race played in course assignment. A regression discontinuity design exploiting the eligibility threshold shows that acceleration has no clear effect on test scores but lowers middle school course grades. Acceleration does, however, raise the probability of taking and passing geometry in ninth grade by over 30 percentage points, including for black and Hispanic students. Nonetheless, most students accelerated in middle school do not remain so by high school and those that do earn low grades in advanced courses. This leaky pipeline suggests that targeted math acceleration has potential to increase college readiness among disadvantaged populations but that acceleration alone is insufficient to keep most students on such a track.
    Date: 2015–07
  8. By: Nagler, Markus; Piopiunik, Marc; West, Martin R.
    Abstract: How do alternative job opportunities affect teacher quality? We provide the first causal evidence on this question by exploiting business cycle conditions at career start as a source of exogenous variation in the outside options of potential teachers. Unlike prior research, we directly assess teacher quality with value-added measures of impacts on student test scores, using administrative data on 33,000 teachers in Florida public schools. Consistent with a Roy model of occupational choice, teachers entering the profession during recessions are significantly more effective in raising student test scores. Results are supported by placebo tests and not driven by differential attrition.
    Keywords: teacher value-added; talent allocation; business cycle; Roy model
    JEL: E32 H75 I20 J24
    Date: 2015–07
  9. By: Hitoshi Shigeoka
    Abstract: Using birth records in Japan, where school entry rule is strictly enforced, this paper shows that more than 1,800 births a year are shifted from one week before the school entry cutoff date to one week following the cutoff date. Because older children perform better academically than their younger peers, parents who value potential long-term academic gains over the short-term gain of childcare cost savings do exploit birth timing as a means of early childhood investment. Heterogeneous responses by parents violate the assumption of regression discontinuity design that births around the school entry cutoff dates are random.
    JEL: I24 J11 J13
    Date: 2015–07
  10. By: Zuo, Na; Schieffer, Jack
    Keywords: Energy boom, Schooling decisions, High school graduation rate, High school enrollment rate, Community/Rural/Urban Development, Environmental Economics and Policy, Labor and Human Capital, Public Economics,
    Date: 2015
  11. By: Anderson, Michael L.; Gallagher, Justin; Ramirez, Elizabeth
    Keywords: healthy food, school lunch, test scores, Agricultural and Food Policy, Environmental Economics and Policy, Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety,
    Date: 2015
  12. By: Orazio Attanasio; Arlen Guarín; Carlos Medina; Costas Meghir
    Abstract: We use experimental data of a training program in 2005 in Colombia. We find that even up to ten years ahead, the JeA program had a positive and significant effect on the probability to work in the formal sector. Applicants in the treatment group also contributed more months to social security during the analyzed period, and to work for a large firm. Earnings of treated applicants were 11.8% higher in the whole sample, and they made larger contributions to social security. In addition, we also present non parametric bounds that for some percentiles of the sample of women, there are positive and nearly significant effects of the program. Thus, the effects of the program would have been capitalized both in increases in the likelihood of being formal, and increases in productivity. We also present evidence that the estimated program effects on the likelihood of working for the formal sector, the likelihood of working for a large firm, and the earnings in the formal sector, are not an artifact of analyzing multiple outcomes. We also find that for the whole sample of applicants, those in the treatment group have 0.315 more years of education, and have a probability of graduating from high school 10 percent higher than the control group. We find no significant effect on the probability of attending college or any school program, nor on fertility decisions, marital status or some dimensions of assortative mating. Among applicants matching to the census of the poorest population, we find that beneficiaries are more likely to participate in the labor market, to be employed, and to be enrolled in a private health insurance at the time of the survey. Finally, we find that the benefits of the JeA program are higher than it costs, leading to an internal rate of return of at least 22.1 percent. On the whole, the program was a cost-effective alternative, worth to consider to bridging the transit of youths from the informal to the formal sector in the future.
    JEL: J24 O15
    Date: 2015–07
  13. By: Guo, Jianxin; Jin, Songqing; Chen, Lei; Wang, Min; Zhang, Junfeng; Sun, Sufen
    Keywords: Impact Evaluation, Distance Education, Propensity Score Matching, Agricultural Performance, Community/Rural/Urban Development, Labor and Human Capital, Research and Development/Tech Change/Emerging Technologies, Teaching/Communication/Extension/Profession,
    Date: 2015–05–27
  14. By: Sahn, David E.; Villa, Kira M.
    Abstract: Growing evidence in the economics literature links “noncognitive” skills to economic, behavioral and demographic outcomes in the developed world. However, there is little such evidence linking these traits to economic outcomes in developing country contexts. This paper estimates the joint effect of five specific personality traits and cognition on the age of entry into the labor market, labor market sectoral selection, and within sector earnings for a sample of young adults in Madagascar. The personality traits we examine are known as the Big Five Personality Traits: Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Additionally, we look at how these traits interact with household-level shocks in determining their labor market entry decisions. We find that personality does indeed have an effect on these outcomes of interest and affects how these individuals respond to shocks in their labor decisions.
    Keywords: Cognitive Noncognitive Personality Labor Education Development, International Development, Labor and Human Capital, O12, O15, O17,
    Date: 2015–05–27
  15. By: Katare, Bhagyashree
    Abstract: This is a revised and updated version of the original AAEA conference paper posted at:
    Keywords: Obesity, Immigration, Acculturation, Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety,
    Date: 2015–02
  16. By: Poudel, Biswo N.; Paudel, Krishna P.
    Keywords: Demand and Price Analysis, Political Economy,
    Date: 2015–07

This nep-edu issue is ©2015 by João Carlos Correia Leitão. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.