nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2021‒01‒04
eleven papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Heterogeneous Effects of School Autonomy in England By Lorenzo Neri; Elisabetta Pasini
  2. From asking to observing. Behavioural measures of socio-emotional and motivational skills in large-scale assessments By Francesca Borgonovi; Alessandro Ferrara; Mario Piacentini
  3. High-Ability Influencers? The Heterogeneous Effects of Gifted Classmates By Simone Balestra; Aurélien Sallin; Stefan C. Wolter
  4. Italian PhD students at the borders: The relationship between family background and international mobility By Valentina Tocchioni; Alessandra Petrucci
  5. Contextualizing oppositional cultures: A multilevel network analysis of status orders in schools By Hanno Kruse; Clemens Kroneberg
  6. When the Great Equalizer Shuts Down: Schools, Peers, and Parents in Pandemic Times By Francesco Agostinelli; Matthias Doepke; Giuseppe Sorrenti; Fabrizio Zilibotti
  7. The Impact of Eliminating Secondary School Fees: Evidence from Tanzania By Kasper Brandt; Beatrice K. Mkenda
  8. When education and urban policies overlap: Effect on academic achievement By Fanny Alivon; Manon Garrouste; Rachel Guillain
  9. How Parents' Skills Affect Their Time-Use with Children? Evidence from an RCT Experiment in Italy By Daniela Del Boca; Chiara Pronzato; Lucia Schiavon
  11. How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting educational quality in South Africa? Evidence to date and future risks By Martin Gustafsson; Carol Nuga Deliwe

  1. By: Lorenzo Neri (University of St Andrews); Elisabetta Pasini (Alma Economics)
    Abstract: A 2010 education reform gave English schools the option to become academies, autonomous but state-funded schools. Academies can opt for two different models of governance by choosing to remain standalone schools or join an academy chain. We investigate whether the governance model affects student achievement, exploiting administrative records on primary school-age students and using a grandfathering instrument for attending a converted school. We find that students in academy chains have higher end-of-primary school test scores. Effects are stronger for disadvantaged students. Survey data suggest that chains favor management changes, whereas standalone academies make changes related to educational practices.
    Keywords: autonomous schools, school governance, school performance
    JEL: I20 I21 I28
    Date: 2020–12–11
  2. By: Francesca Borgonovi (UCL Social Research Institute, United Kingdom); Alessandro Ferrara (Department of Political and Social Sciences, European University Institute, Italy); Mario Piacentini (Directorate for Education and Skills, France)
    Abstract: Socio-emotional and motivational skills are routinely measured using self-reports in large-scale educational assessments. Measures exploiting test-takers’ behaviour during the completion of questionnaires or cognitive tests are increasingly used as alternatives to self-reports in the economics of education literature. We use cross-sectional and longitudinal evidence to evaluate if behavioural measures can provide unbiased measures of socio-emotional and motivational skills to be used in empirical research using data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). We find that behavioural measures capture important aspects of students’ academic profiles: some are importantly associated with contemporaneous performance and educational attainment. However, these measures are only limitedly correlated among themselves and have low correlations with self-report measures of the same constructs. Moreover, behavioural measures have different levels of stability over time and sensitivity to design considerations. These results suggest that more research is needed before measures of students’ behaviour on a cognitive test can be used as valid indicators of socio-emotional and motivational skills.
    Keywords: Socio-emotional and motivational skills; cross-country; PISA; large-scale assessments; behavioural measures; self-reports; education.
    JEL: I20 I24 I26
    Date: 2020–12–01
  3. By: Simone Balestra; Aurélien Sallin; Stefan C. Wolter
    Abstract: This paper examines how exposure to students identified as gifted (IQ ≥ 130) affects achievement in secondary school, enrollment in post-compulsory education, and occupational choices. By using student-level administrative data on achievement combined with psychological examination records, we study the causal impact of gifted students on their classmates in unprecedented detail. We find a positive and significant effect of the exposure to gifted students on school achievement in both math and language. The impact of gifted students is, however, highly heterogeneous along three dimensions. First, we observe the strongest effects among male students and high achievers. Second, we show that male students benefit from the presence of gifted peers in all subjects regardless of their gender, whereas female students seem to benefit primarily from the presence of female gifted students. Third, we find that gifted students diagnosed with emotional or behavioral disorders have zero-to-negative effects on their classmates’ performance, a detrimental effect more pronounced for female students. Finally, exposure to gifted students in school has consequences that extend beyond the classroom: it increases the likelihood of choosing a selective academic track as well as occupations in STEM fields.
    Keywords: gifted students, peer quality, gender, math, peer effects
    JEL: I21 I24 I26 J24
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Valentina Tocchioni (Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti", Università di Firenze); Alessandra Petrucci (Dipartimento di Statistica, Informatica, Applicazioni "G. Parenti", Università di Firenze)
    Abstract: Previous literature has suggested that PhD students’ mobility has become a fundamental step during doctoral studies, both for training purposes and for creating transnational research networks. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in migration of highly educated and highly skilled Italians. Most studies concentrate on employment-related characteristics of researchers’ and scientists’ mobility, largely neglecting other topics, such as family background characteristics of those who decide to study and go abroad. Using the Istat Survey on occupational conditions of PhD holders conducted in 2014 and 2018 in Italy, along with modelling using multinomial logistic regression analyses, we aim to investigate the relationship between family background characteristics and mobility during PhD studies according to different types of international stay. Our results show that both parental education and mother’s economic activity are related to the propensity for studying abroad among PhD candidates, whereas father’s social class seems to have a lower impact on this decision. The gap in doctoral mobility among PhD students with respect to socio-economic status seems also to vary according to the different types of stay abroad. Overall, our findings intend to shed light on potential disparities related to studying abroad among PhD students and their links to family background, which may have future repercussions on students’ occupational prospects.
    Keywords: PhD students, international mobility, family background, higher education, multinomial logistic regression, Italy
    JEL: I24 I23 C25
    Date: 2020–12
  5. By: Hanno Kruse (Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Cologne, 50923 Köln, Germany); Clemens Kroneberg (of Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Cologne, 50923 Köln, Germany)
    Abstract: Different lines of research have argued that specific groups, such as boys or ethnic minorities, are more prone to develop an anti-school culture than others, leading to group differences in the social acceptance of high performers. Taking an ecological view, we ask to what extent the school context promotes or prevents the emergence of group-specific oppositional cultures. Theoretically, we argue that group-based oppositional cultures become more likely in schools with low socio-economic resources and in schools where socio-economic differences align with demographic attributes. We test our hypotheses based on data from a large-scale, four-wave network panel survey among more than 3000 students in Germany. Applying stochastic actor-oriented models for the coevolution of networks and behavior, we find that group-based oppositional cultures in which students like high performers less are very rare. However, in line with theoretical expectations, boys tend to evaluate high-performing peers less positively than girls do in schools that are less resourceful. Moreover, ethnic minority boys tend to evaluate high performers less positively than majority boys do in schools where the former tend to come from socio-economically less resourceful families.
    Keywords: gender, ethnicity, school performance, social networks, stochastic actor-oriented models
    JEL: I24 Z13
    Date: 2020–12
  6. By: Francesco Agostinelli (University of Pennsylvania); Matthias Doepke (Northwestern University); Giuseppe Sorrenti (University of Amsterdam); Fabrizio Zilibotti (Yale University)
    Abstract: What are the effects of school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s education? Online education is an imperfect substitute for in-person learning, particularly for children from low-income families. Peer effects also change: schools allow children from different socio-economic backgrounds to mix together, and this effect is lost when schools are closed. Another factor is the response of parents, some of whom compensate for the changed environment through their own efforts, while others are unable to do so. We examine the interaction of these factors with the aid of a structural model of skill formation. We find that school closures have a large and persistent effect on educational outcomes that is highly unequal. High school students from poor neighborhoods suffer a learning loss of 0.4 standard deviations, whereas children from rich neighborhoods remain unscathed. The channels operating through schools, peers, and parents all contribute to growing educational inequality during the pandemic.
    Keywords: COVID-19, skill acquisition, peer effects, parenting, parenting style, neighborhood effects, pandemic
    JEL: I24 J13 J24 R20
    Date: 2020–12
  7. By: Kasper Brandt (DERG, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen); Beatrice K. Mkenda (Department of Economics, University of Dar es Salaam)
    Abstract: In January 2016, Tanzania implemented a fee-free secondary school reform. Using variation in district and cohort exposure to the reform, we employ a difference-indifferences strategy to estimate the short-term impacts of the reform. Despite a relatively small drop in user costs, the reform substantially increased enrolment into secondary education. While these enrolment effects were predominantly driven by an increase in public school enrolment, there was also a delayed positive effect on private school enrolment. Districts most exposed to the reform experienced a significant drop in exam scores relative to less-exposed districts, which cannot be explained by academic abilities of new students. These findings are in line with a theoretical school choice model, where fee elimination loosens enrolment constraints, and increased enrolment harms the quality of public education.
    Keywords: school fee elimination, learning, secondary School, Tanzania
    JEL: I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2020–12–14
  8. By: Fanny Alivon (Université de la Réunion); Manon Garrouste (Université de Lille, Lem-CNRS); Rachel Guillain (Université de Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, LEDi)
    Abstract: In this paper, we study the effect on academic achievement of the overlap between urban and education placed-based policies in France. The identification challenge comes from two potential bias due to individual location choices and school choices. To analyze causal effects, we propose to use regression discontinuities at the boundaries of treated zones. We use very precise geocoded data at the neighborhood, school, and individual levels in the Paris municipality to investigate the net effect of each type of programs, as well as potential interaction effects. Preliminary results suggest that the net effect on academic achievement of urban policies is negative and that there is no advantage of benefiting from both types of programs.
    Keywords: Place-based policies, Education policies, Regression discontinuity
    JEL: I24 I28 R28 C21
    Date: 2019–02
  9. By: Daniela Del Boca; Chiara Pronzato; Lucia Schiavon
    Abstract: This paper investigates the impact of parenting courses on fragile families’ time use with their children. Courses aimed at raising parental awareness of the importance of educational activities are offered in four Italian cities (Naples, Reggio Emilia, Teramo and Palermo) within the framework of the social program “FA.C.E. Farsi Comunità Educanti” and with the cooperation of the program “Con i Bambini”2. To conduct the impact evaluation3, we designed a randomized controlled trial involving random assignment of the families (mostly mothers). At the end of the intervention, we administered an assessment questionnaire both to the treatment group, which took the course, and to the control group, which did not. Comparing the outcomes, we find attending the course increased families’ awareness of the importance of educational activities for children, the frequency with which they read to the child, and their desire to spend more time with the child.
    Keywords: parenting use of time, randomized controlled trial
    JEL: J13 D10 I26
    Date: 2020
  10. By: Jaanika Meriküll; Maryna Tverdostup
    Abstract: This paper looks at the gender wage gap throughout the transition from communism to capitalism and throughout fast economic convergence. The case of Estonia is used, and the labour force survey micro data is employed from 1989 to 2020. The communist regimes were characterized by highly regulated wage determination and the high educational attainment and labour market participation of women. Despite a formally egalitarian regime, the raw gender wage gap was as large as 41% in 1989. The large gender wage gap under communist rule diminished quickly during the transition to a capitalism, mainly due to the erosion of distortions in the labour market, such as low returns to education. The paper has two main messages, first, the position of women in the labour market has improved over the last three decades. The mechanism behind their gains is similar to those in other formerly centrally planned economies, the education of women is even better now, they are employed in better occupations and their returns to education are higher. Second, the gender wage gap was large already three decades ago and the unexplained part has been resistant to decline. This points to strong inertia in the gender wage gap and to the importance of longer-term factors in it. The decline in the gap is related to the overall decline in wage inequality, minimum wages have also contributed to this process. While gender attitudes have become much more egalitarian, it is difficult to prove their role.
    Keywords: gender gap, pension, gender equality, gender attitudes
    Date: 2020
  11. By: Martin Gustafsson (ReSEP, Stellenbosch University, and Department of Basic Education); Carol Nuga Deliwe (Department of Basic Education)
    Abstract: Educational quality has been improving in South Africa, off a low base, according to international testing programmes. Yet this trajectory was fragile already before the COVID-19 pandemic. Models recently developed to understand the impact of the pandemic on educational quality, when applied to South Africa, reveal trends which are worrying. Learning losses can be expected to exceed what is suggested by actual days of schooling lost, as prolonged closures result in the forgetting of skills acquired before the closure. Depending on how successful the efforts of the schooling system and individual teachers are in catching up lost learning, below-expected Grade 12 outcomes lasting to at least 2022, and possibly as far as 2031, could be experienced. This will compromise progress in the post-school education sector, and productivity in the labour market. Two drivers of past improvements in learning outcomes seem particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic: access to educational materials by learners could be reduced as budgets are cut; and participation in pre-schools could drop as poor households become unable to pay fees. Even before the pandemic, it was clear that further qualitative improvement would require innovation in the schooling sector. Two areas of innovation should continue to receive attention in the coming years: taking to scale new methods in the teaching of early grade reading which government’s own research has found to be effective; and building better school accountability systems, within the framework offered by the National Development Plan.
    Keywords: COVID-19, schooling, South Africa, learning outcomes
    JEL: I18 I21 O15
    Date: 2020

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