nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2018‒12‒17
seven papers chosen by
Marco Novarese
Università del Piemonte Orientale

  1. Unequal uptake of higher education mobility in the UK. The importance of social segregation in universities and subject areas By Schnepf, Sylke
  2. School tracking and social selection in northern Italy By John Polesel; Mary Leahy
  3. Better Together? Heterogeneous Effects of Tracking on Student Achievement By Sönke Hendrik Matthewes
  4. Student exposure to socio-economic diversity and students’ university outcomes – Evidence from English administrative data By Braakmann, Nils; McDonald, Stephen
  5. PISA for Development: Results in Focus By Michael Ward
  6. Efficiency in the transformation of schooling into competences: A cross-country analysis using PIAAC data By Inés P. Murillo; José L. Raymond; Jorge Calero
  7. How do institutions affect learning inequalities? Revisiting difference-in-difference models with international assessments. By Contini, Dalit; Cugnata, Federica

  1. By: Schnepf, Sylke (European Commission – JRC)
    Abstract: Student mobility is the most recognised element of Erasmus+, a major EU policy which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2017. It is clearly popular with an increase in student uptake from 3.2 to 272.5 thousands from 1987 to 2014. Recent studies show that studying abroad provides benefits like improved employment chances and language competences. These benefits are not equally distributed among graduates, since recent literature shows that disadvantaged students are less likely to study abroad than better off students. This is explained by differing social capital of individuals from diverse socio-economic backgrounds which impacts on different choices. However, not much is known about the role of social segregation in universities and subjects studied. Using multilevel logistic regressions this paper examines two main research questions. First, how important is social segregation in universities and subjects for unequal mobility uptake? Second, how much of existing differences in mobility by socio-economic background can be explained by ability of students? Throughout, results for Erasmus mobility will be compared with those of other mobility schemes organised by higher education institutes. The study exploits population data of more than 500,000 UK graduates of the 2010/11, 2012/13 and 2014/15 cohorts deriving from the Higher Education Statistics Agency data (HESA). Results show that a considerable part of unequal mobility uptake is explained by social segregation in universities and subjects even if graduates’ upper secondary school grades are taken into account. Policy makers aiming to increase mobility uptake of disadvantaged students could allocate resources for mobility more equally across universities.
    Keywords: Erasmus, mobility uptake, credit mobility, study abroad, social segregation, UK
    JEL: I23 I24 I28
    Date: 2018–08
  2. By: John Polesel (The University of Melbourne); Mary Leahy (The University of Melbourne)
    Abstract: The links between tracked secondary schooling and social selection form part of a complex narrative regarding educational inequality in European schools. The relative contribution of family and school to unequal educational outcomes has dominated educational debates across the continent for more than fifty years. This article contributes to this debate by focussing on students in the final year of schooling in northern Italy. It asks whether there are social differences in enrolments and aspirations across the three different types of schools. It also considers whether aspirations can be linked to differences in levels of family support or to school-related factors. To examine these links, we consider four main ways of conceptualising aspirations and propose an approach that draw on theories explaining preference formation and choice.
    Keywords: Education. Schools. Inequality. Social selection
    JEL: I24
    Date: 2018–10
  3. By: Sönke Hendrik Matthewes
    Abstract: This study estimates mean and distributional effects of early between-school ability tracking on student achievement. For identification, I exploit heterogeneity in tracking regimes between German federal states. After comprehensive primary school, about 40% of students are selected for the academic track and taught in separate schools in all states. The remaining students, however, are either taught comprehensively or further tracked into two different school forms depending on the state. I estimate the effects of this tracking on students’ mathematics and reading test scores with a difference-in-difference-in-differences estimator to eliminate unobserved heterogeneity in achievement levels and trends between states. I find substantial achievement gains from comprehensive versus tracked schooling at ages 10–12. These average effects are almost entirely driven by low-achievers. I do not find evidence for negative effects of comprehensive schooling on the achievement of higher performing students. My results show that decreasing the degree of tracking in early secondary school can reduce inequality while increasing the efficiency of educational production.
    Keywords: Tracking, student achievement, inequality, triple differences
    JEL: I24 I28 J24
    Date: 2018
  4. By: Braakmann, Nils; McDonald, Stephen
    Abstract: Many countries encourage universities to increase the ethnic and socio-economic diversity of their student bodies, for example, through affirmative action policies. We use unique administrative data for all undergraduate degree students entering English universities between 2008 and 2010 to investigate the role of a more diverse environment for students’ degree outcomes. We find a complex picture – a more diverse environment is beneficial for students, but so is meeting some students from the same background. These effects are different for good and top degrees, interact with each other and vary across institutions, subjects and student subgroups.
    Keywords: Diversity; affirmative action; widening participation; university; student outcomes
    JEL: H23 I23 I24 I28 J15
    Date: 2018–10–26
  5. By: Michael Ward (OECD)
    Abstract: Building on the experience of working with middle-income countries in PISA since 2000, and in an effort to respond to the emerging demand for PISA to cater to a wider range of countries, the OECD launched the PISA for Development (PISA-D) initiative in 2014. This one-off pilot project, spanning six years, aims to make the assessment more accessible and relevant to low-to-middle-income countries.A key component of PISA-D was building capacity in the participating countries for managing large-scale student learning assessments and using the results to support national policy dialogue and evidence-based decision-making.Around 37 000 students completed the school-based assessment, representing about one million 15-year-old students (in grade 7 or above) in the schools of the seven participating countries: Cambodia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Senegal and Zambia. On average across PISA-D countries, only 43% of all 15-year-olds were enrolled in at least grade 7 by age 15 and were eligible to sit the PISA-D test, compared to the OECD average of 89%. The remaining 15-year-olds were either in grades below 7 or were out of school. In Cambodia, Senegal and Zambia, only around 30% of 15-year-olds were eligible to sit the PISA-D test.
    Date: 2018–12–11
  6. By: Inés P. Murillo (Universidad de Extremadura); José L. Raymond (Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona & IEB); Jorge Calero (Universidad de Barcelona & IEB)
    Abstract: This study (i) compares the competence levels of the adult population in a set of OECD countries; (ii) assesses the comparative efficiency with which the education system in each country transforms schooling into competences, distinguishing by educational level, and (iii) tracks the evolution of this efficiency by birth cohorts. Using PIAAC data, the paper applies standard parametric frontier techniques under two alternative specifications. The results obtained under both specifications are similar and identify Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Japan as being the most efficient and Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland and Poland as the least efficient. The evolution of the efficiency levels by age cohorts shows that higher education is more efficient for younger cohorts, while lower and upper secondary education present a stable trend over cohorts.
    Keywords: Adult population competences, efficiency, PIAAC, parametric frontier techniques
    JEL: I21 C13
    Date: 2017
  7. By: Contini, Dalit; Cugnata, Federica (University of Turin)
    Abstract: In this contribution, we discuss the difference-in-difference strategies employed in the literature to evaluate the effect of institutional features on learning inequalities exploiting international assessments administered at different age/grades. In their seminal paper, Hanushek and Woessmann (2006) analyze with two-step estimation the effect of early tracking on overall inequalities, measured by variability indexes. Later work of other scholars focuses instead on inequalities among children of different family backgrounds, using individual-level models on data pooled from different countries and assessments. We demonstrate that since test-scores are measured with different scales at different assessments, pooled individual models may deliver severely biased results. Instead, the scaling problem does not affect the two-step approach. For this reason, we advocate the use of two-step estimation also to analyze family-background achievement inequalities. Against this background, using PIRLS-2006 and PISA-2012 we conduct two-step difference-in-difference analyses, finding new evidence that early tracking fosters both overall inequalities and family background differentials in reading literacy.
    Date: 2018–10

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