nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2020‒10‒19
fourteen papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. State Investment in Higher Education: Effects on Human Capital Formation, Student Debt, and Long-term Financial Outcomes of Students By Rajashri Chakrabarti; Nicole Gorton; Michael F. Lovenheim
  2. Can Superstition Create a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy? School Outcomes of Dragon Children of China By Mocan, Naci; Yu, Han
  3. Coronavirus pandemic, remote learning and education inequalities By Murat, Marina; Bonacini, Luca
  4. An Intensive, School-Based Learning Camp Targeting Academic and Non-Cognitive Skills Evaluated in a Randomized Trial By Hvidman, Charlotte; Koch, Alexander K.; Nafziger, Julia; Nielsen, Søren Albeck; Rosholm, Michael
  5. Marginal Effects of Merit Aid for Low-Income Students By Joshua Angrist; David Autor; Amanda Pallais
  6. First in Their Families at University: Can Non-cognitive Skills Compensate for Social Origin? By Edwards, Rebecca; Gibson, Rachael; Harmon, Colm P.; Schurer, Stefanie
  7. What determines the provision of free elementary education across Indian states? By Nurzamal Hoque; Ratul Mahanta; Hiranya K. Nath
  8. Digital Messaging to Improve College Enrollment and Success By Christopher Avery; Benjamin L. Castleman; Michael Hurwitz; Bridget T. Long; Lindsay C. Page
  9. Educational Mismatches of Newly Hired Workers: Short and Medium-run Effects on Wages By Araújo, Isabel; Carneiro, Anabela
  10. Nudging Demand for Academic Support Services: Experimental and Structural Evidence from Higher Education By Pugatch, Todd; Wilson, Nicholas
  11. The Exports of Higher Education Services from OECD Countries to Asian Countries. A Gravity Approach By Beghin, John C.; Park, Byung Yul
  12. When Information is Not Enough: Evidence from a Centralized School Choice System By Kehinde F. Ajayi; Willa H. Friedman; Adrienne M. Lucas
  13. The role of labour market information in guiding educational and occupational choices By Andrea-Rosalinde Hofer; Aleksandra Zhivkovikj; Roger Smyth
  14. Teacher turnover in Rwanda By Andrew Zeitlin

  1. By: Rajashri Chakrabarti; Nicole Gorton; Michael F. Lovenheim
    Abstract: Most public colleges and universities rely heavily on state financial support. As state budgets have tightened in recent decades, appropriations for higher education have declined substantially. Despite concerns expressed by policymakers and scholars that the declines in state support have reduced the return to education investment for public sector students, little evidence exists that can identify the causal effect of these funds on long-run outcomes. We present the first such analysis in the literature using new data that leverages the merger of two rich datasets: consumer credit records from the New York Fed's Consumer Credit Panel (CCP) sourced from Equifax and administrative college enrollment and attainment data from the National Student Clearinghouse. We overcome identification concerns related to the endogeneity of state appropriation variation using an instrument that interacts the baseline share of total revenue that comes from state appropriations at each public institution with yearly variation in state-level appropriations. Our analysis is conducted separately for two-year and four-year students, and we analyze individuals into their mid-30s. For four-year students, we find that state appropriation increases lead to substantially lower student debt originations. They also react to appropriation increases by shortening their time to degree, but we find little effect on other outcomes. In the two-year sector, state appropriation increases lead to more collegiate and post-collegiate educational attainment, more educational debt consistent with the increased educational attainment, but lower likelihood of delinquency and default. State support also leads to more car and home ownership with lower adverse debt outcomes, and these students experience substantial increases in their credit score and in the affluence of the neighborhood in which they live. Examining mechanisms, we find state appropriations are passed on to students in the form of lower tuition in the four-year sector with no institutional spending response. For community colleges, we find evidence of both price and quality mechanisms, the latter captured in higher educational resources in key spending categories. These results are consistent with the different pattern of effects we document in the four-year and two-year sectors. Our results underscore the importance of state support for higher education in driving student debt outcomes and the long-run returns to postsecondary investments students experience.
    JEL: H72 H75 I2
    Date: 2020–10
  2. By: Mocan, Naci (Louisiana State University); Yu, Han (Dalton State College)
    Abstract: In Chinese culture, those who are born in the year of the Dragon are believed to be destined for good fortune and greatness, and parents prefer their kids to be born in a Dragon year. Using provincial level panel data, we first show that the number of marriages goes up during the two years preceding a Dragon year and that births jump up in a Dragon year. Using three micro data sets from China we show that those born in a Dragon year are more likely to have a college education, and that they obtain higher scores at the university entrance exam. Similarly, Chinese middle school students have higher test scores if they are born in a Dragon year. We show that these results are not because of family background, student self-esteem or students' expectations about their future. We find, however, that the "Dragon" effect on test scores is eliminated when we account for parents' expectations about their children's educational and professional success. We find that parents of Dragon children have higher expectations for their children in comparison to other parents, and that they invest more heavily in their children in terms of time and money. We also show that girls are about six cm shorter than boys, but that this height disadvantage is cut by about half if a girl is born in the year of the Dragon and that effect is twice as strong in rural areas. Given that childhood nutrition is related to adolescent height, this suggests that parents may also be investing in Dragon girls in terms of nutrition. These results show that even though neither the Dragon children nor their families are inherently different from other children and families, the belief in the prophecy of success and the ensuing investment become self-fulfilling.
    Keywords: education, superstition, zodiac, investment, self-esteem, test score, dragon, China
    JEL: I2 J1 Z1
    Date: 2020–10
  3. By: Murat, Marina; Bonacini, Luca
    Abstract: School closures during the 2020 pandemic forced countries to rapidly adopt distance learning, with uncertain effects on education inequalities. Using PISA 2018 data from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, we find that students unable to learn remotely, because of a lack of ICT resources or of a quiet place to study, experience significant cognitive losses that, everything else equal, range from 70 percent of a school year in the United Kingdom to 50 percent in Italy. Similar results are found by considering days of absence from school. In the longer run, students who cannot learn remotely are more likely to end their education early and repeat grades, especially in Spain, Germany and Italy. The distribution of cognitive losses is linked to countries' educational systems; hence, policies aiming to enhance e-learning by focusing on disadvantaged students and schools should be designed accordingly.
    Keywords: Covid-19,educational economics,inequality,PISA,human capital
    JEL: I21 I24 H52
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Hvidman, Charlotte (Aarhus University); Koch, Alexander K. (Aarhus University); Nafziger, Julia (Aarhus University); Nielsen, Søren Albeck (Aarhus University); Rosholm, Michael (Aarhus University)
    Abstract: We evaluate two variants of a school-based, intensive learning camp for pupils who are assessed 'not ready' for further education after compulsory school, using a stratified cluster randomized trial involving 15,559 pupils in 264 schools in Denmark. Next to training pupils in Danish and mathematics, the main variant targets non-cognitive skills, while the alternative variant instead uses this time for more training in Danish and math. In the short-run, in the academic areas that are targeted in the camp, we find small positive effects in math and weak evidence for positive effects in Danish. Yet, we find no evidence of lasting effects and we do not find short-run effects on non-targeted areas in math and Danish or on non-cognitive skills. Further, we find no evidence that training of non-cognitive skills affects academic outcomes. These results provide a perspective on recent evidence regarding the effects of training non-cognitive skills in schools - by running such an intervention with older pupils and in a comparatively high-resource school system.
    Keywords: randomized trial, remedial education program, non-cognitive skills
    JEL: I21 C21 D91 I28
    Date: 2020–10
  5. By: Joshua Angrist; David Autor; Amanda Pallais
    Abstract: Financial aid from the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF) provides exceptionally generous support to a college population similar to that served by a host of state aid programs. In conjunction with STBF, we randomly assigned aid awards to thousands of Nebraska high school graduates from low-income, minority, and first-generation college households. Randomly- assigned STBF awards boost bachelor's (BA) degree completion for students targeting four-year schools by about 8 points. Degree gains are concentrated among four-year applicants who would otherwise have been unlikely to pursue a four-year program. Degree effects are mediated by award-induced increases in credits earned towards a BA in the first year of college. The extent of initial four-year college engagement explains heterogeneous effects by target campus and across covariate subgroups. Most program spending is a transfer, reducing student debt without affecting degree attainment. Award-induced marginal spending is modest. The projected lifetime earnings impact of awards exceeds marginal educational spending for all of the subgroups examined in the study. Projected earnings gains exceed funder costs for low-income, non-white, urban, and first-generation students, and for students with relatively weak academic preparation.
    JEL: H52 I22 J24
    Date: 2020–09
  6. By: Edwards, Rebecca (University of Sydney); Gibson, Rachael (University of Sydney); Harmon, Colm P. (University of Edinburgh); Schurer, Stefanie (University of Sydney)
    Abstract: We study the role of non-cognitive skills in academic performance of students who are the first in their family to attend university. We collected survey data on an incoming student cohort from a leading Australian university and linked the survey with students' administrative entry and performance records. First-in-family students have lower grade point averages by about a quarter of a standard deviation than the average student. This performance penalty is larger for young men. The penalty is strongest in the first semester but disappears over time. Some non-cognitive skills (Conscientiousness, Extraversion) predict academic performance almost as strongly as standardised university admissions test scores. High levels of Conscientiousness over-compensate for the performance penalty experienced by first-in-family students, while very low levels exacerbate it. However, adjusting for extreme responses in self-assessed Conscientiousness with anchoring vignettes eliminates the performance advantage of disadvantaged, but highly conscientious students. Overall, our findings accentuate the importance of non-cognitive skills as key indicators of university readiness, and their potential for closing the socioeconomic gap in academic performance.
    Keywords: non-cognitive skills, university performance, socioeconomic gradient in education, first-in-family, linked survey and administrative data, anchoring vignettes
    JEL: A22 J24
    Date: 2020–09
  7. By: Nurzamal Hoque (Department of Economics, Pragjyotish College, Guwahati, Assam (India)); Ratul Mahanta (Department of Economics, Gauhati University, Guwahati, Assam (India)); Hiranya K. Nath (Department of Economics and International Business, Sam Houston State University)
    Abstract: An analysis of relevant data for 27 Indian states from 2005-06 to 2016-17 indicates that there were considerable variations in the provision of free elementary education (FEE) across states. While there was a slight decline in the access dimension of FEE, especially after the implementation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in 2010, there were improvements in physical infrastructure, quality, and student support dimensions. The fixed-effect panel regression estimates overwhelmingly suggest that the FEE provision increases with per capita real NSDP, and decreases with child population growth and private school enrollment. Further, there is some evidence of FEE provision decreasing with an increase in rural population share and of it increasing with increases in child population share and the number of secondary schools.
    Keywords: Free elementary education (FEE), Right to education (RTE) Act, India, access to education, per capita real NDSP, educational opportunity, education infrastructure
    JEL: I24 I25 I28
    Date: 2020–09
  8. By: Christopher Avery; Benjamin L. Castleman; Michael Hurwitz; Bridget T. Long; Lindsay C. Page
    Abstract: We investigate the efficacy of text messaging campaigns to remind students about and support them with key steps in the college search, application, selection and transition process. First, in collaboration with the College Board and uAspire, both national non-profit organizations, we implemented text-message based outreach and advising to students in over 700 US high schools that primarily serve large shares of low-income students. Second, we collaborated with several school districts in the state of Texas to implement a school-based version of the intervention. In the national sample, treatment students received outreach approximately once per month from uAspire counselors, whereas in the Texas sample, treatment students received outreach once every one to two weeks from their high school counselors. In both samples, outreach began in Spring 2015 and continued through September 2016. We tested these interventions with concurrent cluster randomized control trials with randomization at the school level. In contrast to the national version of the intervention, which tended to produce null effects, the school-based intervention yielded positive and significant impacts on several college-going steps and on college enrollment for certain subgroups. We discuss key differences between the two versions of the intervention that may have contributed to these divergent results.
    JEL: I21 I22 I23
    Date: 2020–10
  9. By: Araújo, Isabel; Carneiro, Anabela
    Abstract: Exploring a rich matched employer-employee data set over the 1998-2012 period and a novel measure of educational mismatch, this study analyses the short and medium-term effects of over- and undereducation on the wages of newly hired workers. The data show that more than 50 percent of the employed in the private sector in Portugal experienced a job mismatch at the moment of being hired. According to the statistical measure based on the flows of newly hired workers, in the period under scrutiny overeducation is decreasing and undereducation is increasing, indicating that labour market demand is keeping pace with the rise in educational attainment of the Portuguese population. The results reveal that the wage differential between adequately matched workers and mismatched workers decreases considerably once worker and firm unobserved heterogeneity is taken into account. In fact, worker permanent heterogeneity explains two-thirds of the overducated wage penalty and three-fourths of the undereducated wage premium, indicating that the undereducated seem to correspond to a higher-ability group of employees, while the overeducated seem to correspond to a lower-ability group of workers. Heterogeneity in firm paying policies also play an important role in explaining the wage gap of newly hired mismatched workers. Finally, the results also indicate that the wages of individuals in the beginning of their labour market career are the most affected by a job mismatch.
    Keywords: educational mismatches,overeducation,undereducation,wages,two-way fixed effects
    JEL: I26 J24 J31
    Date: 2020
  10. By: Pugatch, Todd; Wilson, Nicholas
    Abstract: More than two of every five students who enroll in college fail to graduate within six years. Prior research has identified ineffective study habits as a major barrier to success. We conducted a randomized controlled advertising experiment designed to increase demand for academic support services among more than 2,100 students at a large U.S. public university. Our results reveal several striking findings. First, the intervention shifted proxies of student attention, such as opening emails and self-reported awareness of service availability. However, the experimental variation indicates that approximately one-third of students are never attentive to student services. Second, advertising increased the use of extra practice problems, but did not affect take-up of tutoring and coaching, the other two services. Structural estimates suggest that transaction costs well in excess of plausible opportunity costs explain the differences in service use. Third, the characteristics of advertising messages matter. Several common nudging techniques—such as text messages, lottery-based economic incentives, and repeated messages—either had no effect or in some cases reduced the effectiveness of messaging.
    Keywords: email,higher education,incentives,nudges,text,randomized control trial
    JEL: A22 D91 I23 M31
    Date: 2020
  11. By: Beghin, John C.; Park, Byung Yul
    Abstract: We analyze bilateral exports of higher education services between OECD countries and Asia, using a gravity equation approach, panel data from 1998 to 2016, and PPML regression. The approach treats higher education consumption by Asian countries as a consumable durable good reflecting investment in human capital. Asian Students come to OECD countries to obtain degrees from their universities. Structurally, the flow of students from Asian country j to OECD country i depends on the higher-education capacity of i, the perceived quality of universities in i, expected earnings in i, a series of bilateral transaction costs between i and j, the income per capita in j, school-age demographics in j, and the usual multilateral trade resistance terms. We find that bilateral flows of students are strongly influenced by wage levels in the host country, bilateral distance, importers’ income, demographics, common language, the visa regime prevailing in bilateral country pairs, and the network of migrants from j in i. These results hold through a variation of specifications, proxies, and estimation methods. We find mixed evidence on the role of tertiary education capacity in OECD countries and no evidence of a country’s universities reputations explaining the flow of students. The evolution over time of education capacity, earnings, visa regimes, migrant networks, strong income growth and changes in demographics in nearby export markets explain the emergence of Australia, Canada, Korea, and New Zealand and the loss of market share by the US, which still strongly dominates international trade in higher education services. The decline in Chinese students coming to the US is also predicted for the most recent years driven by reduced by its college-age population.
    Date: 2019–11–11
  12. By: Kehinde F. Ajayi; Willa H. Friedman; Adrienne M. Lucas
    Abstract: Students often make school choice decisions with inadequate information. We present results from delivering information to randomly selected students (and some randomly selected parents) across 900 junior high schools in Ghana, a country with universal secondary school choice. We provided guidance on application strategies and reported the selectivity and exit exam performance of secondary schools, information students and parents prioritized. We find that despite information changing the characteristics of schools to which students applied and students gaining admission to higher value-added schools, they were not more likely to matriculate on time or at all. Information was not the only constraint.
    JEL: D84 I21 I24 I25 O15
    Date: 2020–10
  13. By: Andrea-Rosalinde Hofer (OECD); Aleksandra Zhivkovikj; Roger Smyth
    Abstract: Governments recognise that careers guidance, underpinned by accurate labour market information, can help learners make post-secondary education choices that match their interests, aptitudes and abilities, and lead to rewarding employment. For this reason, they have invested in building linked education/employment information systems and other information resources which are displayed on websites targeted to learners and their families. However, researchers and governments agree that these efforts are often ineffective in informing learners’ decisions – access to information is not sufficient to provide effective support to student choice. Drawing upon the insights of behavioural economics, this paper examines how learners access and use information, and what this implies for the design of public study and career choice websites that aim to effectively support student choice. The report also takes stock of the career guidance websites in use in the majority of OECD countries, and sets out to provide actionable advice for policy makers to guide the design of effective information policy levers that support student choice.
    Date: 2020–10–09
  14. By: Andrew Zeitlin
    Abstract: Despite widely documented shortfalls of teacher skills and effort, there is little systematic evidence of rates of teacher turnover in low-income countries. I investigate the incidence and consequences of teacher turnover in Rwandan public primary schools over the period from 2016-2019. To do so, I combine the universe of teacher placement records with student enrollment figures and school-average Primary Leaving Exam scores in a nationally representative sample of 259 schools. Results highlight five features of teacher turnover. First, rates of teacher turnover are high: annually, 20 percent of teachers separate from their jobs, of which 11 percent exit from the public-sector teaching workforce. Second, the burden of teacher churn is higher in schools with low learning levels and, perhaps surprisingly, in low pupil-teacher-ratio schools. Third, teacher turnover is concentrated among early-career teachers, male teachers, and those assigned to teach Math. Fourth, replacing teachers quickly after they exit is a challenge; 23 percent of exiting teachers are not replaced the following year. And fifth, teacher turnover is associated with subsequent declines in learning outcomes. On average, the loss of a teacher is associated with a reduction in learning levels of 0.05 standard deviations. In addition to class-size increases, a possible mechanism for these learning outcomes is the prevalence of teachers teaching outside of their areas of subject expertise: in any given year, at least 21 percent of teachers teach in subjects in which they have not been trained. Taken together, these results suggest that the problem of teacher turnover is substantial in magnitude and consequential for learning outcomes in schools.
    Date: 2020–09

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