nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2021‒02‒22
eleven papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Apart but Connected: Online Tutoring and Student Outcomes during the COVID-19 Pandemic By Carlana, Michela; La Ferrara, Eliana
  2. Taking Education to the Next Level: What Can Be Learned from Benchmarking Education across Economies? By Chun , Natalie; Gentile, Elisabetta
  3. The Contribution of Vocational Education and Training to Innovation and Growth By Uschi Backes-Gellner; Patrick Lehnert
  4. Identifying and Producing Effective Teachers By Gershenson, Seth
  5. Quality and Selection in Regulated Professions By Gaetano Basso; Eleonora Brandimarti; Michele Pellizzari; Giovanni Pica
  6. Gender and Educational Achievement: Stylized Facts and Causal Evidence By Judith M. Delaney; Paul J. Devereux
  7. Central Exams and Adult Skills: Evidence from PIAAC By Leschnig, Lisa; Schwerdt, Guido; Zigova, Katarina
  8. Investment in early education and job market signaling By Luigi Brighi; Marcello D'Amato
  9. Impact of bullying on academic performance. A case study for the Community of Madrid By Gisela Rusteholz; Mauro Mediavilla; Luis Pires
  10. Language education and economic outcomes in a bilingual society By Yuki, Kazuhiro
  11. Fostering Human Empowerment through Education: The Road to Progressive Political Institutions By Carla Peyper; Reneé Van Eyden; Sansia Blackmore

  1. By: Carlana, Michela (Harvard Kennedy School); La Ferrara, Eliana (Bocconi University)
    Abstract: In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the governments of most countries ordered the closure of schools, potentially exacerbating existing learning gaps. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of an intervention implemented in Italian middle schools that provides free individual tutoring online to disadvantaged students during lock-down. Tutors are university students who volunteer for 3 to 6 hours per week. They were randomly assigned to middle school students, from a list of potential beneficiaries compiled by school principals. Using original survey data collected from students, parents, teachers and tutors, we find that the program substantially increased students' academic performance (by 0.26 SD on average) and that it significantly improved their socio-emotional skills, aspirations, and psychological well-being. Effects are stronger for children from lower socioeconomic status and, in the case of psychological well-being, for immigrant children.
    Keywords: tutoring, COVID-19, education, achievement, aspirations, socioemotional skills, well-being
    JEL: I24 I21
    Date: 2021–02
  2. By: Chun , Natalie (Udemy); Gentile, Elisabetta (Asian Development Bank)
    Abstract: Benchmarking is intended to help gauge where economies rank relative to others. However, historically educational benchmarking has often elected to use indicators based on their ease of availability, rather than a clear and defined link between inputs and learning outcomes. In this paper, we present a new approach to benchmarking. Developing and undertaking a systematic documentation of 171 indicators on basic and secondary educational inputs covering 69 economies, we analyze indicators that are significantly correlated with higher levels of learning outcomes. We find evidence that only six key inputs are associated with higher learning outcomes: gross enrollment in secondary school; targeted public information that reveals student gaps; strategic budgeting that provides programs for at-risk students; teacher quality that ensures wages are high and incentives are aligned with learning outcomes; information collection that enables timely, data-driven decision-making; and curriculum content that is matched to student skills. This work is seen as an important step for future benchmarking exercises in prioritizing investments in educational inputs that deliver improved educational outcomes independent of the economy and cultural context.
    Keywords: basic education; education benchmarking; higher education; skill outcomes; TVET
    JEL: H52 I22 I23 I25
    Date: 2020–03–09
  3. By: Uschi Backes-Gellner; Patrick Lehnert
    Abstract: Despite the common view that innovation requires academically educated workers, some countries that strongly emphasize vocational education and training (VET) in their education systems - such as Switzerland and Germany - are highly competitive internationally in terms of innovation. These countries have dual VET programs, i.e., upper-secondary-level apprenticeship programs that combine about three-quarters of workplace training with about one-quarter of vocational schooling, and design them in such a way that their graduates (i.e., dual apprenticeship-graduates) play crucial roles in innovation processes. Regular updates of VET curricula incorporate the latest technological developments into these curricula, thereby ensuring that dual apprenticeship-graduates possess up-to-date, high-level skills in their chosen occupation. This process allows these graduates to contribute to innovation in firms. Moreover, these graduates acquire broad sets of technical and soft skills that enhance their job mobility and flexibility. Therefore, conventional wisdom notwithstanding, dual apprenticeship-graduates in such countries not only have broad skill sets that accelerate innovation in firms, but also willingly participate in innovation because of their high flexibility and employability. Moreover, Switzerland and Germany have tertiary-level VET institutions that foster innovation. These are Universities of Applied Sciences (UASs), which teach and conduct applied research, thereby helping build a bridge between different types of knowledge (vocational and academic). UAS students have prior vocational knowledge through their dual apprenticeship and acquire applied research skills from UAS professors who usually have both work experience and a doctoral degree from an academic university. Thus UAS graduates combine sound occupational knowledge with applied research knowledge inspired by input from the academic research frontier and from practical research and development (R&D) in firms. Firms employ UAS graduates with their knowledge combination as an important input for R&D. Consequently, regions with a UAS have higher levels of innovation than regions without one. This effect is particularly strong for regions outside major innovation centers and for regions with larger percentages of smaller firms.
    Keywords: vocational education and training (VET), innovation, education systems, apprenticeship training, Universities of Applied Sciences, applied research
    Date: 2021–02
  4. By: Gershenson, Seth (American University)
    Abstract: Teachers are among the most important school-provided determinants of student success. Effective teachers improve students' test scores as well as their attendance, behavior, and earnings as adults. However, students do not enjoy equal access to effective teachers. This article reviews some of the key challenges associated with teacher policy confronted by school leaders and education policymakers, and how the tools of applied economics can help address those challenges. The first challenge is that identifying effective teachers is difficult. Economists use value-added models to estimate teacher effectiveness, which works well in certain circumstances, but should be just one piece of a multi-measure strategy for identifying effective teachers. We also discuss how different policies, incentives, school characteristics, and professional-development interventions can increase teacher effectiveness; this is important, as schools face the daunting challenge of hiring effective teachers, helping teachers to improve, and removing ineffective teachers from the classroom. Finally, we discuss the supply and mobility of teachers, including the consequences of teacher absenteeism, the distribution of initial teaching placements, and the characteristics and preferences of those who enter the profession.
    Keywords: teacher supply, teacher effectiveness, incentive pay, value-added models
    JEL: I24 I21
    Date: 2021–02
  5. By: Gaetano Basso (Banca d’Italia); Eleonora Brandimarti (University of Geneva); Michele Pellizzari (University of Geneva, CEPR and IZA); Giovanni Pica (Universita della Svizzera Italiana, CSEF and LdA)
    Abstract: Entry in many occupations is regulated with the objective to screen out the least able producers and guarantee high quality of output. Unfortunately, the available empirical evidence suggests that in most cases these objectives are not achieved. In this paper we investigate entry into the legal profession in Italy and we document that such a failure is due to the combination of the incomplete anonymity of the entry exam and the intergenerational transmission of business opportunities. We use microdata covering the universe of law school graduates from 2007 to 2013 matched with their careers and earnings up to 5 years after graduation. Variation generated by the random assignment of the entry exam grading commissions allows us to identify the role of family ties in the selection process. We find that connected candidates, i.e. those with relatives already active in the profession, are more likely to pass the exam and eventually earn more, especially those who performed poorly in law school. When we simulate the process of occupational choice assuming family connections did not matter, we find that strong positive selection on ability would emerge.
    JEL: J24 J44 J62
    Date: 2021–01–15
  6. By: Judith M. Delaney; Paul J. Devereux
    Abstract: There are two well-established gender gaps in education. First, females tend to have higher educational attainment and achievement than males and this is particularly the case for children from less advantaged backgrounds. Second, there are large differences in the fields of specialization chosen by males and females in college and even prior to college and females disproportionately enter less highly paid fields. This review article begins with these stylized facts and then moves on to describe evidence for the role of various factors in affecting educational achievement by gender. Gender differences in non-cognitive traits, behaviour, and interests have been shown to relate to differences in educational outcomes; however, this evidence cannot generally be given a causal interpretation. In contrast, the literature has been creative in estimating causal impacts of a wide range of factors using experimental and quasi-experimental variation. While the approaches are compelling, the findings vary widely across studies and are often contradictory. This may partly reflect methodological differences across studies but also may result from substantial true heterogeneity across educational systems and time periods. The review concludes by evaluating what factors are most responsible for the two central gender gaps, whether there is a role for policy to reduce these gender differences, and what the findings imply about the capacity for policy to tackle these gaps.
    Keywords: Education; Gender; Schools; Gender gaps; Gender and educational achievement; Gender and STEM
    JEL: I24 J16
    Date: 2021–01
  7. By: Leschnig, Lisa (Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg); Schwerdt, Guido (University of Konstanz); Zigova, Katarina (University of Konstanz)
    Abstract: Central exams are often hypothesized to favorably affect incentive structures in schools. Indeed, previous research provides vast evidence on the positive effects of central exams on student test scores. But critics warn that these effects may arise through the strategic behavior of students and teachers, which may not affect human capital accumulation in the long run. Exploiting variation in examination types across school systems and over time, we provide the first evidence that central exams positively affect adult skills. However, our estimates are small compared to the existing estimates for students, which may indicate some fade-out in the effect on skills over time.
    Keywords: Central Exams, adult skills, earnings, PIAAC
    JEL: I20 J24 J31
    Date: 2021–02
  8. By: Luigi Brighi; Marcello D'Amato
    Abstract: We consider a signaling model of the job market in which workers, before choosing their level of education, have the opportunity to undertake an unobservable investment in activities aimed at saving on future education costs. Sufficiently high levels of investments allow a low productivity worker to cut the marginal costs of signaling below the high productivity worker’s. In contrast to standard results, we find that the equilibrium outcome will depend on the relative magnitude of workers’ average productivity. If average productivity exceeds a certain threshold the most plausible solution is a refined pooling equilibrium in which all workers attain the same level of over-education and are paid the same wage. Otherwise, the most plausible outcome is the standard least cost separating equilibrium in which only high ability workers are over-educated
    Keywords: : Signaling, Pooling Equilibrium, Single Crossing, Early Education
    JEL: C72 D82 J24
    Date: 2020–10
  9. By: Gisela Rusteholz (Universitat de València); Mauro Mediavilla (Universitat de València & IEB); Luis Pires (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos)
    Abstract: Bullying is a problem that affects children and teenagers around the world and its repercussions can endure throughout adult life. Its prevalence is, in part, a product of the lack of information and the paucity of studies which analyse the wide-ranging consequences for the individuals involved. The main objective of this research is to study the incidence of bullying on the academic performance of students in education centres in the Madrid Region. The databases used are those of Competency Tests carried out on all 10th grade students in Madrid during the year 2017. These external assessment tests evaluate Spanish language, English language, Mathematics, and Geography and History. Along with these tests, the students, their families, their teachers and head teachers complete comprehensive questionnaires. To analyse all these data, we carry out a multilevel methodological approach to identify the quantitative association of bullying with academic performance and to estimate the probability that performance is affected by the level of bullying that exists in the education centres. The results indicate that bullying has a negative impact on all the competencies evaluated, that the probability of a lower academic performance increases in environments where there is bullying and that bullying can affect students with low or high academic achievement in different ways, depending on what competency is evaluated.
    Keywords: Bullying, Cyberbullying, Academic Performance, Case Study
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Yuki, Kazuhiro
    Abstract: Poor economic performance of minority groups and large economic disparity between these groups and the majority group are major concerns in most countries. In many of these countries, the mother tongue of the latter group is the common language in national business and in inter-group communications. How much weights should be placed on common language education and on ethnic language education is a crucial issue in school education of minority students. This paper develops a model to examine the issue theoretically. It is shown that balanced education of the two languages is critical for skill development of individuals with limited wealth. It is also found that balanced dual education is desirable in terms of earnings net of educational expenditure and consumption, only when the country has favorable conditions (TFP is reasonably high and education is reasonably effective in skill development) and only for those with adequate wealth. Common-language-only education maximizes net earnings and consumption of those with little wealth, and, when the country's conditions are not good, maximizes the economic outcomes of all. Policy implications of the results are discussed. The paper also examines implications of the asymmetric language positions of the groups for sectoral choices and within-group inequalities.
    Keywords: language policy, bilingual education, ethnic inequality, human capital, economic development
    JEL: I25 J15 J24 O15 Z13
    Date: 2021–02
  11. By: Carla Peyper (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria); Reneé Van Eyden (Department of Economics, University of Pretoria); Sansia Blackmore (African Tax Institute, University of Pretoria)
    Abstract: This paper investigates the role of human empowerment and state capacity in forging political institutions that are progressive and democratic. The education-democracy nexus has been thoroughly examined in the literature, but the empirical literature on the effect of the right kind and quality of education remains sparse. Generalised method of moments and probit methodology are employed for a sample of 105 countries over the period 1981 to 2015 to address these shortcomings. The results indicate that education is a necessary condition for democracy, but by itself, not sufficient. The analyses show that education of the right kind and quality, one that fosters emancipative mindsets and critical-liberal orientations, is a strong driver of progressive or democratic political institutions in a society. Trade openness (as a sub-index of formal rules), that signals societies' openness to outside influence, also seems to matter, but when a more encompassing measure of regime-independent formal rules is used, formal institutions become an insignificant determinant of liberal democracy. Other avenues that are explored include an investigation into the role of geography and spatial democracy in political institutions. The evidence suggests that geographical and biological factors do not matter, but that spatial democracy does. This study, furthermore, finds that the probability of a more democratic regime outcome increases with increased levels of human empowerment and trade openness. A parliamentary democracy is the most probable when a society has high levels of human empowerment and openness.
    Keywords: Liberal democracy, emancipative value system, human empowerment
    Date: 2021–02

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