nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2021‒01‒11
thirteen papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Do Fiscal Restraints Harm Test Scores? Evidence from Italy By Caterina Pavese; Enrico Rubolino
  2. On the Mechanisms of Ability Peer Effects By de Gendre, Alexandra; Salamanca, Nicolás
  3. Identity and Learning: a study on the effect of student-teacher gender matching on learning outcomes By Bhattacharya, Sukanta; Dasgupta, Aparajita; Mandal, Kumarjit; Mukherjee, Anirban
  4. The Effects of Working While in School: Evidence from Uruguayan Lotteries By Le Barbanchon, Thomas; Ubfal, Diego; Araya, Federico
  5. Misallocation in the Public Sector? Cross-Country Evidence from Two Million Primary Schools By Torsten Figueiredo Walter
  6. The Effect of Computer-Assisted Learning on Students' Long-Term Development By Nicola Bianchi; Yi Lu; Hong Song
  7. On the design of grant assignment rules By Francesca Modena; Giulia Martina Tanzi; Santiago Pereda Fernandez
  8. The Origins of Cognitive Skills and Non-cognitive Skills: The Long-Term Effect of in-Utero Rainfall Shocks in India By Chang, Grace; Favara, Marta; Novella, Rafael
  9. A Theory of Quasi-Experimental Evaluation of School Quality By Yusuke Narita
  10. Education and Consanguineous Marriage By Akyol, Pelin; Mocan, Naci
  11. Locus of control and Human Capital Investment Decisions: The Role of Effort, Parental Preferences and Financial Constraints By Szabó-Morvai Ágnes; Hubert János Kiss
  12. Does education matter? Tests from extensions of compulsory schooling in England and Wales 1919-21, 1947 and 1972 By Clark, Gregory; Cummins, Neil
  13. Non-Cognitive Skills and Remedial Education: Good News for Girls By Marianna Battaglia; Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo

  1. By: Caterina Pavese (Department of Economics, University Of Venice Cà Foscari); Enrico Rubolino (HEC Lausanne)
    Abstract: Most countries discipline their public budget through a set of fiscal rules aiming at limiting public debt accumulation. Yet, apart from the direct effect on public finance outcomes, there is limited evidence on whether these policies affect broader socio-economic outcomes. This paper provides regression discontinuity estimates of fiscal rules-induced school spending drops on test scores of Italian students. We show that school spending per-pupil is around 102 euros lower in municipalities subject to fiscal restraints. Using longitudinal data on pupils’ attainment in national test at the beginning and the end of primary school, we find that spending differences lead to a gap in standardized test score gains of nearly 12 percent of a standard deviation. The impact is particularly strong for lower socio-economic groups. We find that both the lack of several basic instructional tools and limited investments in school facilities explain most of the observed achievement gap. Our results reveal how fiscal restraints can create “unintended” consequences for younger generations and exacerbate cross-generation inequalities when governments need to reduce public spending.
    Keywords: School spending, test scores, fiscal rules, regression discontinuity design
    JEL: I22 I24 H52 H75
    Date: 2021
  2. By: de Gendre, Alexandra (Maastricht University); Salamanca, Nicolás (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research)
    Abstract: Studying with higher ability peers increases student performance, yet we have little idea why. We exploit random assignment of students to classrooms and find positive peer effects on test scores. With rich data on nineteen potential mechanisms, we then estimate how effects on attitudes, parents, and teachers could drive these results. Higher-achieving peers reduce student effort, increase student university aspirations, increase parental time investments and parental strictness, and have precise null effects elsewhere. None of these mechanisms, however, explain our peer effect on test scores. Our results highlight promising avenues for understanding ability peer effects.
    Keywords: random assignment, standardized test, parental investments, school inputs, mediation analysis
    JEL: I23 I26 D13
    Date: 2020–12
  3. By: Bhattacharya, Sukanta; Dasgupta, Aparajita; Mandal, Kumarjit; Mukherjee, Anirban
    Abstract: In this paper we examine whether students' and teachers' identity play any role in the learning outcome of students. Specifically, we ask if a student benefits by learning from a teacher of her same gender. Unlike the existing literature which explains such interaction through role model effect or Pygmalion effect, we explain such interaction in terms of gender based sorting behaviour across private and public schools. Our results are driven by two critical differences between male and female individuals. For male and female teachers, the difference comes from their differential transaction costs of traveling to schools at remote locations. For students, the difference between male and female members comes from the differential returns to education accrued to their parents; for girl students, a lower fraction of the return comes to their parental families as they start living with their husband's family after their marriages. These factors create a sorting pattern which makes the female teachers and students of the highest quality attend private schools in urban location. This creates a positive gender matching effect only for urban, private schools. We find support for our theoretical predictions when we test them using Young Lives Survey (YLS) data collected from Andhra Pradesh.
    Keywords: Teacher-student matching,Gender identity,Education,Gender norms,India
    JEL: I20 J16
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Le Barbanchon, Thomas (Bocconi University); Ubfal, Diego (World Bank); Araya, Federico (Uruguayan Ministry of Labor and Social Security)
    Abstract: Shall we encourage students to work while in school? We provide evidence by leveraging a one-year work-study program that randomizes job offers among students in Uruguay. Using social security data matched to over 120,000 applicants, we estimate an increase of 9% in earnings and of 2 percentage points in enrollment over the four post-program years for treated youth. Survey data indicate that enrolled participants reduce study time, but this does not translate into lower grades. Students mainly substitute leisure and household chores with work. The earnings effect is related to the work experience and the transferability of skills acquired in program jobs.
    Keywords: student employment, randomized lottery
    JEL: J08 J22 J24 I21 I28
    Date: 2020–12
  5. By: Torsten Figueiredo Walter
    Abstract: This paper examines how the allocation of teachers across public primary schools differs between countries and the extent to which this can explain differences in educational outcomes. First, I build a new global school-level data set that comprises nearly two million schools representing public primary education in 91 countries. I document that pupil-teacher ratios (PTRs) in developed countries are low on aggregate and vary little between schools. In contrast, in developing countries aggregate PTRs are high and differences in PTRs between schools are large. Even at the local level, within second-tier administrative units, differences in PTRs between schools are substantial. While PTRs are higher in rural areas, PTR differences between schools within both urban and rural areas are much larger than differences in average PTRs between urban and rural areas. High PTRs are typically found in areas with low levels of wealth and adult literacy, and poor school infrastructure. Second, I build a model of education production to assess if complementarities between teachers, school infrastructure and household inputs can rationalize the prevailing inequalities in the relative number of teachers within developing countries. Simulations suggest that more equal teacher allocations could in fact increase, rather than decrease, aggregate learning in many poor countries. Obtaining equivalent gains through reductions in aggregate PTRs, while holding relative PTRs between schools fixed, on the other hand, would require large teacher workforce increases.
    Keywords: Development, Education, Inequality, Misallocation, State Capacity
    JEL: I25 H52 O15
    Date: 2020–06
  6. By: Nicola Bianchi; Yi Lu; Hong Song
    Abstract: In this paper, we examine the effect of computer-assisted learning on students’ long-term development. We explore the implementation of the “largest ed-tech intervention in the world to date,” which connected China’s best teachers to more than 100 million rural students through satellite internet. We find evidence that exposure to the program improved students’ academic achievement, labor performance, and computer usage. We observe these effects up to ten years after program implementation. These findings indicate that education technology can have long-lasting positive effects on a variety of outcomes and can be effective in reducing the rural–urban education gap.
    JEL: I24 I26 I28 O15 O38
    Date: 2020–12
  7. By: Francesca Modena (Bank of Italy); Giulia Martina Tanzi (Bank of Italy); Santiago Pereda Fernandez (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: One of the main goals of grants is to reduce dropout rates. In this paper, we assess how different assignment rules target different students and how they affect dropout rates in the first year of enrollment. The analysis uses administrative data from all Italian universities for the period 2003-13. We find that awarding the grant to all eligible students would significantly increase public expenses, with only a slight reduction in the dropout rate. Since we find that the grants have a heterogeneous effect according to students’ characteristics, assignment rules keeping the number of grants constant have an impact on dropout rates. In particular, targeting high-performing students would minimize dropout rates amongst grant recipients, but it would slightly increase the overall dropout rate. On the other hand, targeting those who benefit the most achieves the maximum reduction in dropout rates at the cost of increasing the number of grant recipient dropouts.
    Keywords: grants, treatment assignment, university dropouts
    JEL: C25 I21 I22
    Date: 2020–12
  8. By: Chang, Grace (London School of Economics); Favara, Marta (University of Oxford); Novella, Rafael (Inter-American Development Bank)
    Abstract: Skills are an important predictor of labour, education, and wellbeing outcomes. Understanding the origins of skills formation is important for reducing future inequalities. This paper analyses the effect of shocks in-utero on human capital outcomes in childhood and adolescence in India. Combining historical rainfall data and longitudinal data from Young Lives, we estimate the effect of rainfall shocks in-utero on cognitive and non-cognitive skills development over the first 15 years of life. We find negative effects of rainfall shocks on receptive vocabulary at age 5, and on mathematics and non-cognitive skills at age 15. Also, shocks occurred after the first trimester are more detrimental for skills development. Our findings support the implementation of policies aiming at reducing inequalities at very early stages in life.
    Keywords: skills formation, in-utero, rainfall shocks, India
    JEL: J24 I14
    Date: 2020–12
  9. By: Yusuke Narita (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    Abstract: Many centralized school admissions systems use lotteries to ration limited seats at oversubscribed schools. The resulting random assignment is used by empirical researchers to identify the effects of schools on outcomes like test scores. I first find that the two most popular empirical research designs may not successfully extract a random assignment of applicants to schools. When do the research designs overcome this problem? I show the following main results for a class of data-generating mechanisms containing those used in practice: The “first-choice” research design extracts a random assignment under a mechanism if the mechanism is strategy-proof for schools. In contrast, the other “qualification instrument” research design does not necessarily extract a random assignment under any mechanism. The former research design is therefore more compelling than the latter. Many applications of the two research designs need some implicit assumption, such as large-sample approximately random assignment, to justify their empirical strategy.
    Keywords: market design, natural experiment, school effectiveness
    JEL: C93 D47 I24
    Date: 2020–12
  10. By: Akyol, Pelin (Bilkent University); Mocan, Naci (Louisiana State University)
    Abstract: At least one of every five marriages is consanguineous (between couples who are second cousins or closer) in the Middle East and North Africa, and the rate is higher than 50 percent in some parts of the world. Consanguineous marriage generates serious health problems for the offspring and constitutes an economic problem with its associated medical costs and the impact on human capital. The prevalence of consanguineous marriage and the resultant kinship networks can shape various dimensions of the society ranging from institutional structure to attitudes such as trust, individualism, and nepotism. Using data from Turkey and leveraging an education reform which increased mandatory schooling by three years, we find that the reform made women less likely to find consanguineous marriage as an acceptable practice, and that the reform reduced women's propensity to marry a first cousin or a blood relative. Exposure to the reform altered women's preferences in favor of personal autonomy. Women who are exposed to the reform are more likely to have met their husbands outside of family networks, they are less likely to get forced into marriage against their consent, and they are less likely to agree that only a son can ensure the continuation of the family blood line. These results indicate that educational attainment can alter behaviors and attitudes which may be rooted in culture.
    Keywords: education, cousin marriage, culture, blood marriage, women's empowerment
    JEL: I18 I26 I21 J1 Z1
    Date: 2020–12
  11. By: Szabó-Morvai Ágnes (KRTK-KTI, 1097 Budapest, Tóth Kálmán u. 4.és Debreceni Egyetem, 4032 Debrecen, Böszörményi út 138.); Hubert János Kiss (KRTK KTI, 1097 Budapest, Tóth Kálmán u. 4, Magyarország. andBudapesti Corvinus Egyetem, 1093 Budapest, Fõvám tér 8, Magyarország.)
    Abstract: We study the relationship between locus of control (LoC) and human capital investment decisions in the adolescence, using PDS lasso to exploit high-dimensional data. While LoC is not significantly associated with graduation from high school once we use exogenous controls, it correlates strongly with dropout age and college attendance even if we take into account predetermined variables and cognitive abilities, and it exhibits a significant positive relationship with plans to apply to college even if we control for potentially endogenous variables. We find that effort is an important conduit through which LoC operates and it is different from the expectation channel that has been already documented in the literature. The associations are heterogenous: LoC has a significant association with dropout age, high school graduation and college application plans in low-SES families, and with college attendance in mid-SES families. These heterogenous relations are in a large part determined by parental preferences and financial constraints.
    Keywords: Human Capital Investment Decision, LoC, Machine learning, PDS Lasso
    JEL: D91 I21 I23 I24 I26
    Date: 2020–12
  12. By: Clark, Gregory; Cummins, Neil
    Abstract: Schooling and social outcomes correlate strongly. But are these connections causal? Previous papers for England using compulsory schooling to identify causal effects have produced conflicting results. Some found significant effects of schooling on adult longevity and on earnings, others found no effects. Here we measure the consequence of extending compulsory schooling in England to ages 14, 15 and 16 in the years 1919-22, 1947 and 1972. From administrative data these increases in compulsory schooling added 0.43, 0.60 and 0.43 years of education to the affected cohorts. We estimate the effects of these increases in schooling for each cohort on measures of adult longevity, on dwelling values in 1999 (an index of lifetime incomes), and on the the social characteristics of the places where the affected cohorts died. Since we have access to all the vital registration records, and a nearly complete sample of the 1999 electoral register, we find with high precision that all the schooling extensions failed to increase adult longevity (as had been found previously for the 1947 and 1972 extensions), dwelling values, or the social status of the communities people die in. Compulsory schooling ages 14-16 had no effect, at the cohort level, on social outcomes in England.
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2020–12
  13. By: Marianna Battaglia (Universidad de Alicante); Marisa Hidalgo-Hidalgo (Department of Economics, Universidad Pablo de Olavide;)
    Abstract: Growing evidence shows that non-cognitive skills are crucial for labor market and other outcomes in life. However, little is known about the role of education in improving these abilities, especially for disadvantaged teenagers in developed countries. We address two questions: can remedial educational interventions improve their non-cognitive skills? and, can we expect heterogeneous effects by gender? We take advantage of a remedial program for under-performing students implemented in Spain and we consider testing behaviors as measures of non-cognitive skills. The impact of remedial programs on these abilities, especially malleable for teenagers, has been overlooked in the literature. We find that the program had a substantial positive effect on girls' non-cognitive skills but not on boys'.
    Keywords: remedial education, test performance, PISA
    JEL: H52 I23 I28 J24
    Date: 2020

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