nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2021‒08‒30
eleven papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Study Abroad Programmes and Students' Academic Performance: Evidence from Erasmus Applications By Granato, Silvia; Havari, Enkelejda; Mazzarella, Gianluca; Schnepf, Sylke V.
  2. Matching in the Dark? Inequalities in Student to Degree Match By Stuart Campbell; Lindsey Macmillan; Richard Murphy; Gill Wyness
  3. Choose the school, choose the performance. New evidence on the determinants of student performance in eight European countries By Luca Bonacini; Irene Bfrunetti; Giovanni Gallo
  4. The Benefits of Alternatives to Conventional College: Comparing the Labor-Market Returns to for-Profit Schools and Community Colleges By Christopher Jepsen; Peter Mueser; Kenneth Troske; Kyung-Seong Jeon
  5. Do disadvantaged students benefit from attending classes with more skilled colleagues?: Evidence from a top university in Brazil By Henrique Z. Motte; Rodrigo C. Oliveira
  6. Does Money Still Matter? Attainment and Earnings Effects of Post-1990 School Finance Reforms By Jesse Rothstein; Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach
  7. Parental Incarceration and Children's Educational Attainment By Carolina Arteaga
  8. College Credit on the Table? Advanced Placement Course and Exam Taking By Fazlul, Ishtiaque; Jones, Todd R.; Smith, Jonathan
  9. Selective Schooling Has Not Promoted Social Mobility in England By Buscha, Franz; Gorman, Emma; Sturgis, Patrick
  10. Estimating test-score growth for schools and districts with a gap year in the data By Ishtiaque Fazlul; Cory Koedel; Eric Parsons; Cheng Qian
  11. Labor Market Returns and the Evolution of Cognitive Skills: Theory and Evidence By Hermo, Santiago; Päällysaho, Miika; Seim, David; Shapiro, Jesse

  1. By: Granato, Silvia (European Commission, Joint Research Centre); Havari, Enkelejda (European Commission, Joint Research Centre); Mazzarella, Gianluca (European Commission, Joint Research Centre); Schnepf, Sylke V. (European Commission, DG Joint Research Centre)
    Abstract: Erasmus+ is one of the most popular programmes financed by the European Union. It provides international mobility grants to university students while staying enrolled at their home university. This paper brings novel evidence on the effect of participating in the programme on students' academic outcomes, using rich administrative data from one of the largest public universities in Italy. We rely on a fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design, since the selection of applicants to Erasmus mobility programmes depends on a continuous score assigned during the application process. Our results show that Erasmus mobility does not delay graduation at the home university and, in addition, it has a positive and significant impact on undergraduates' final degree mark. Investigating possible heterogeneous effects, we find that Erasmus mobility improves graduation results for undergraduate students in scientific and technical fields (STEM) and for those who apply for the Erasmus grant in the first year of their studies. Finally, the positive impact on performance at graduation appears to be stronger for students who visit foreign universities of relatively lower quality compared with their home university and for those who stay abroad for more than six months.
    Keywords: Erasmus+ programme, international student mobility, university, administrative data, Regression Discontinuity Design
    JEL: I23 D04
    Date: 2021–08
  2. By: Stuart Campbell; Lindsey Macmillan; Richard Murphy; Gill Wyness
    Abstract: This paper examines inequalities in the match between student and degree quality using linked administrative data from schools, universities and tax authorities. We analyse two measures of match at the university-subject level: undergraduate enrollment qualifications, and graduate earnings. We find for both that disadvantaged students match to lower quality degrees across the entire distribution of achievement, in a setting with uniform fees and a generous financial aid system. While there are negligible gender gaps in academic match, high-attaining women systematically undermatch in terms of expected earnings, driven by subject choice. These inequalities in match are largest among the most undermatched.
    Keywords: higher education, educational economics, college choice, mismatch, undermatch
    JEL: I23 I24
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Luca Bonacini; Irene Bfrunetti; Giovanni Gallo
    Abstract: This study aims to identify the main determinants of student performance in reading and maths across eight European Union countries (Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia). Based on student-level data from the OECD’s PISA 2018 survey and by means of the application of efficient algorithms, we highlight that the number of books at home and a variable combining the type and location of their school represent the most important predictors of student performance in all of the analysed countries, while other school characteristics are rarely relevant. Econometric results show that students attending vocational schools perform significantly worse than those in general schools, except in Portugal. Considering only general school students, the differences between big and small cities are not statistically significant, while among students in vocational schools, those in a small city tend to perform better than those in a big city. Through the Gelbach decomposition method, which allows measuring the relative importance of observable characteristics in explaining a gap, we show that the differences in test scores between big and small cities depend on school characteristics, while the differences between general and vocational schools are mainly explained by family social status.
    Keywords: Gelbach decomposition, Education inequalities, Machine learning, PISA, Schooling tracking, Student performance.
    JEL: I21 I24 J24
    Date: 2021–08
  4. By: Christopher Jepsen; Peter Mueser; Kenneth Troske; Kyung-Seong Jeon
    Abstract: This paper provides novel evidence on the labor-market returns to for-profit postsecondary school and community college attendance using a two-step model to avoid recent concerns with singlestage fixed effects methods. Specifically, we link administrative records on for-profit school and community college attendance with quarterly earnings data for over 400,000 students in one state. Five years after enrollment, quarterly earnings conditional on employment exceed earnings in the absence of schooling by 20-29 percent for students attending for-profit schools and 16-27 percent for students attending community colleges. Despite differences in costs, in aggregate the benefits of attendance generally exceed the costs in both for-profit schools and community colleges. Finally, we present evidence showing that students in for-profit schools and community colleges pursue different degrees and focus on different areas of study.
    Keywords: postsecondary education, labor-market returns, for-profit schools
    JEL: J24 I26
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Henrique Z. Motte; Rodrigo C. Oliveira
    Abstract: Peers play an essential role in cognitive and non-cognitive skills formation. Ordinal rank may also change incentives and environment, impacting students' efforts. Using two rich administrative data sets and a rule of admission at one top university in Brazil, we apply a regression discontinuity design to study the effect of class allocation on academic performance and labour market outcomes. The rule creates two potential effects on students: peer and ranking effects.
    Keywords: Affirmative action, Peer effect, Ranking effect, Brazil, Education
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Jesse Rothstein; Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach
    Abstract: Card and Krueger (1992a,b) used labor market outcomes to study the productivity of school spending. Following their lead, we examine effects of post-1990 school finance reforms on students’ educational attainment and labor market outcomes. Lafortune et al. (2018) show that these reforms increased school spending and narrowed spending and achievement gaps between high- and low-income districts. Using a state-by-cohort panel design, we find that reforms increased high school completion and college-going, concentrated among Black students and women, and raised annual earnings. They also increased the return to education, particularly for Black students and men and driven by the return to high school.
    JEL: I21 I24 J24
    Date: 2021–08
  7. By: Carolina Arteaga
    Abstract: This paper presents new evidence showing that parental incarceration increases children's educational attainment. I collect criminal records for 90,000 low-income parents who have been convicted of a crime in Colombia, and link them with administrative data on the educational attainment of their children. I exploit exogenous variation in incarceration resulting from the random assignment of defendants to judges, and extend the standard framework to incorporate both conviction and incarceration decisions. I show that the effect of incarceration for a given conviction threshold can be identified. My results indicate that parental incarceration increases educational attainment by 0.78 years for the children of convicted parents on the margin of incarceration.
    Keywords: Incarceration, Education, Parenting
    JEL: I24 J24 K42
    Date: 2021–08–23
  8. By: Fazlul, Ishtiaque (University of Missouri); Jones, Todd R. (Mississippi State University); Smith, Jonathan (Georgia State University)
    Abstract: Millions of high school students who take an Advanced Placement (AP) course in one of over 30 subjects can earn college credit by performing well on the corresponding AP exam. Using data from four metro-Atlanta public school districts, we find that 15 percent of students' AP courses do not result in an AP exam. We predict that up to 32 percent of the AP courses that do not result in an AP exam would result in a score of 3 or higher, which generally commands college credit at colleges and universities across the United States. Next, we examine disparities in AP exam-taking rates by demographics and course taking patterns. Most immediately policy relevant, we find evidence consistent with the positive impact of school district exam subsidies on AP exam-taking rates. In fact, students on free and reduced-price lunch (FRL) in the districts that provide a higher subsidy to FRL students than non-FRL students are more likely to take an AP exam than their non-FRL counterparts, after controlling for demographic and academic covariates.
    Keywords: educational economics, advanced placement, high school coursework
    JEL: I22 I20
    Date: 2021–08
  9. By: Buscha, Franz (University of Westminster); Gorman, Emma (University of Westminster); Sturgis, Patrick (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: In this paper we use linked census data to assess whether an academically selective schooling system promotes social mobility, using England as a case study. Over a period of two decades, the share of pupils in academically selective schools in England declined sharply and differentially by area. Using a sample of census records matched to administrative data on selective system schooling within local areas, we exploit temporal and geographic variation to estimate the effects of the selective schooling system on absolute and relative social class mobility. Our results provide no support for the contention that the selective schooling system increased social mobility in England, whether considered in absolute or relative terms. The findings are precisely estimated and robust to a comprehensive battery of robustness checks.
    Keywords: social mobility, selective schooling, grammar schools
    JEL: I21 J18 J24
    Date: 2021–08
  10. By: Ishtiaque Fazlul (Department of Economics, University of Missouri); Cory Koedel (Department of Economics, University of Missouri); Eric Parsons (Department of Economics, University of Missouri); Cheng Qian (Department of Economics, University of Missouri)
    Abstract: We evaluate the feasibility of estimating test-score growth for schools and districts with a gap year in test data. Our research design uses a simulated gap year in testing when a true test gap did not occur, which facilitates comparisons of district- and school-level growth estimates with and without a gap year. We find that growth estimates based on the full data and gap-year data are generally similar, establishing that useful growth measures can be constructed with a gap year in test data. Our findings apply most directly to testing disruptions that occur in the absence of other disruptions to the school system. They also provide insights about the test stoppage induced by COVID-19, although our work is just a first step toward producing informative school- and district-level growth measures from the pandemic period.
    Keywords: value-added modeling, growth modeling, test gap, COVID-19 test stoppage
    JEL: I20
    Date: 2021
  11. By: Hermo, Santiago (Brown University); Päällysaho, Miika (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University); Seim, David (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University); Shapiro, Jesse (Brown University)
    Abstract: A large literature in cognitive science studies the puzzling “Flynn effect” of rising fluid intelligence (reasoning skill) in rich countries. We develop an economic model in which a cohort’s mix of skills is determined by different skills’ relative returns in the labor market and by the technology for producing skills. We estimate the model using administrative data from Sweden. Combining data from exams taken at military enlistment with earnings records from the tax register, we document an increase in the relative labor market return to logical reasoning skill as compared to vocabulary knowledge. The estimated model implies that changes in labor market returns explain 36 percent of the measured increase in reasoning skill, and can also explain the decline in knowledge. An original survey of parents, an analysis of trends in school curricula, and an analysis of occupational characteristics show evidence of increasing emphasis on reasoning as compared to knowledge.
    Keywords: Flynn effect; IQ; skill investment; human capital; administrative data
    JEL: J24 J31 O52
    Date: 2021–08–23

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