nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2021‒10‒25
six papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. College Choice, Private Options, and The Incidence of Public Investment in Higher Education By John Bound; Andrew Simon
  2. Estimating returns to special education: combining machine learning and text analysis to address confounding By Aur\'elien Sallin
  3. Feedback in Homogeneous Ability Groups: A Field Experiment By Tim Klausmann
  4. The Psychosocial Effects of the Flint Water Crisis on School-Age Children By Sam Trejo; Gloria Yeomans-Maldonado; Brian Jacob
  5. The Intergenerational Elasticity of Earnings: Exploring the Mechanisms By Bolt,U.; French, E.; Hentall MacCuish, J.; O'Dea, C.
  6. Testing, Teacher Turnover and the Distribution of Teachers Across Grades and Schools By Fuchsman, Dillon; Sass, Tim; Zamarro, Gema

  1. By: John Bound; Andrew Simon
    Abstract: Previous measures of the incidence of public investment in higher education focus on the transfer to public college students. This implies that the net benefits to students who do not attend public colleges is negative. However, they miss potential general equilibrium effects on the private college and labor markets. Changes in the public college market affect who private colleges admit, what prices they charge, and the number of students who enroll in any college. We show that capturing these spillovers is important for characterizing incidence using a model of higher education that we validate with quasi-experimental variation in state spending. Unlike previous measures, we find that high-income-modest-ability students especially benefit since they are only admitted to high-quality private colleges when state spending is high, and the public colleges create sufficient competitive pressure. Decreased investment also reduces educational attainment, raising the college wage premium. This exacerbates private college market power.
    JEL: H22 H7 I23
    Date: 2021–10
  2. By: Aur\'elien Sallin
    Abstract: While the number of students with identified special needs is increasing in developed countries, there is little evidence on academic outcomes and labor market integration returns to special education. I present results from the first ever study to examine short- and long-term returns to special education programs using recent methods in causal machine learning and computational text analysis. I find that special education programs in inclusive settings have positive returns on academic performance in math and language as well as on employment and wages. Moreover, I uncover a positive effect of inclusive special education programs in comparison to segregated programs. However, I find that segregation has benefits for some students: students with emotional or behavioral problems, and nonnative students. Finally, using shallow decision trees, I deliver optimal placement rules that increase overall returns for students with special needs and lower special education costs. These placement rules would reallocate most students with special needs from segregation to inclusion, which reinforces the conclusion that inclusion is beneficial to students with special needs.
    Date: 2021–10
  3. By: Tim Klausmann (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
    Abstract: Relative performance feedback often increases effort and performance on average. However, in the context of education, learners with low ability often do not profit from relative performance feedback. Less is known on how learners react to feedback when changing the feedback group composition. In a randomized field experiment we allocated 7352 learners into (i) homogeneous ability feedbackgroups, (ii) heterogeneous ability feedbackgroups, and (iii) a control group. All learners were observed in an online learning enviroment with anonymity between them. We find that on average relative performance feedback increases learning effort by 0.11 standard deviations. However, we do not observe any difference between learners in homogeneous and heterogeneous feedback groups on average. Further, we analyze the differential treatment effect for different ability levels between homogeneous and heterogenous feedback groups.
    Keywords: Feedback, Relative Performance, Heterogeneity, Education, Online Education, Peer Quality, Tracking, Learning Behavior, Gamification
    JEL: D31 F12 F16 H24
    Date: 2021–09–30
  4. By: Sam Trejo; Gloria Yeomans-Maldonado; Brian Jacob
    Abstract: Lead poisoning has well-known impacts for the developing brain of young children, with a large literature documenting the negative effects of elevated blood lead levels on academic and behavioral outcomes. In April of 2014, the municipal water source in Flint, Michigan was changed, causing lead from aging pipes to leach into the city’s drinking water. In this study, we use Michigan’s universe of longitudinal, student-level education records, combined with home water service line inspection data containing the location of lead pipes, to empirically examine the effect of the Flint Water Crisis on educational outcomes of Flint public school children. We leverage parallel causal identification strategies, a between-district synthetic control analysis and a within-Flint difference-in-differences analysis, to separate out the direct health effects of lead exposure from the broad effects of living in a community experiencing a crisis. Our results highlight a less well-appreciated consequence of the Flint Water Crisis – namely, the psychosocial effects of the crisis on the educational outcomes of school-age children. These findings suggest that cost estimates which rely only on the negative impact of direct lead exposure substantially underestimate the overall societal cost of the crisis.
    JEL: I10 I21 I28 I30 J01 J18
    Date: 2021–10
  5. By: Bolt,U.; French, E.; Hentall MacCuish, J.; O'Dea, C.
    Abstract: Using data covering a single cohort's first 55 years of life, we show that most of the intergenerational elasticity of earnings (IGE) is explained by differences in: years of schooling, cognitive skills, investments of parental time and school quality, and family circumstances during childhood. To decompose the fraction of the IGE explained by each of these channels, we implement a multi-level mediation analysis combined with a latent factor framework that accounts for measurement error. Multilevel mediation analysis allows us to assess not only the direct effect of each channel on the IGE, but also its indirect effects working through the other channels, thus providing an in-depth understanding of the link between parents' and children's earnings. Of these channels, we show that the main driver of the IGE is increased levels of parental investments received by children of high income parents early in their lives, which encourages greater cognitive development and lifetime earnings.
    Keywords: Parental Investments, Cognitive Skills, Intergenerational Elasticity of Earnings
    JEL: I24 J24 C38
    Date: 2021–10–20
  6. By: Fuchsman, Dillon (Sinquefield Center for Applied Economic Research, Saint Louis University); Sass, Tim (Georgia State University); Zamarro, Gema (University of Arkansas)
    Abstract: Teacher turnover has adverse consequences for student achievement and imposes large financial costs for schools. Some have argued that high-stakes testing may lower teachers’ satisfaction with their jobs and could be a major contributor to teacher attrition. In this paper, we exploit changes in the tested grades and subjects in Georgia to study the effects of eliminating high-stakes testing on teacher turnover and the distribution of teachers across grades and schools. To measure the effect of testing pressures on teacher mobility choices we use a "difference-in-differences" approach, comparing changes in mobility over time in grades/subjects that discontinue testing vis-à-vis grades/subjects that are always tested. Our results show that eliminating testing did not have an impact on the likelihood of leaving teaching, changing schools within a district, or moving between districts. We only uncover small negative effects on the likelihood of grade switching. However, we do find relevant positive effects on retention of beginning teachers in the profession. In particular, the average probability of exit for teachers with 0-4 years of experience fell from 14 to 13 percentage points for teachers in grades 1 and 2 and from 14 to 11 percentage points in grades 6 and 7.
    Keywords: teacher turnover; high-stakes testing; accountability pressure difference-in-differences approach
    JEL: I20 J20
    Date: 2020–02–01

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