nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2021‒11‒29
thirteen papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. The COVID-19 Pandemic and School Closure: Learning Loss in Mathematics in Primary Education By Contini, Dalit; Di Tommaso, Maria Laura; Muratori, Caterina; Piazzalunga, Daniela; Schiavon, Lucia
  2. Individualism, Human Capital Formation, and Labor Market Success By Katharina Hartinger; Sven Resnjanskij; Jens Ruhose; Simon Wiederhold
  3. Can Interventions Targeting Community Attitudes Improve Education for Marginalized Students? Evidence from a Mixed-Methods Experimental Design in Zimbabwe By Ardyn Nordstrom
  4. The Intergenerational Transmission of Cognitive Skills: An Investigation of the Causal Impact of Families on Student Outcomes By Eric A. Hanushek; Babs Jacobs; Guido Schwerdt; Rolf van der Velden; Stan Vermeulen; Simon Wiederhold
  5. Education Transmission and Network Formation By Boucher, Vincent; Del Bello, Carlo L.; Panebianco, Fabrizio; Verdier, Thierry; Zenou, Yves
  6. Some Children Left Behind: Variation in the Effects of an Educational Intervention By Julie Buhl-Wiggers; Jason T. Kerwin; Juan S. Muñoz-Morales; Jeffrey A. Smith; Rebecca Thornton
  7. Couples are Made of Four: Intergenerational Transmission of Within-household Allocations By Garcia-Brazales, Javier
  8. Differing roles of lifelong learning: Hedging against unemployment risks from skill obsolescence or boosting upward career mobility? By Tobias Schultheiss; Uschi Backes-Gellner
  9. Graduate Earnings Premia in the UK : Decline and Fall? By Boero, Gianna; Nathwani, Tej; Naylor, Robin; Smith, Jeremy
  10. The Origins of Gender Differences in Competitiveness and Earnings Expectations: Causal Evidence from a Mentoring Intervention By Boneva, Teodora; Buser, Thomas; Falk, Armin; Kosse, Fabian
  11. Schools under mandatory testing can mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2 By Ingo E. Isphording; Marc Diederichs; Reyn van Ewijk; Nico Pestel
  12. Cross-country data on skills and the quality of schooling: a selective survey By Ángel de la Fuente; Rafael Doménech
  13. Closing the Gender Profit Gap? By Batista, Catia; Sequeira, Sandra; Vicente, Pedro C.

  1. By: Contini, Dalit (University of Turin); Di Tommaso, Maria Laura (University of Turin); Muratori, Caterina (University of Torino); Piazzalunga, Daniela (University of Trento); Schiavon, Lucia (University of Torino)
    Abstract: Italy was the first Western country hit by Covid-19 in February 2020, responding with a tight lockdown and full school closure until the end of the school year. This paper estimates the effect of the pandemic and school closure on the math skills of primary school pupils in Italy. We compare the learning achievements of two cohorts of pupils, the pre-Covid and the Covid cohort. For both cohorts, we match scores on the national standardised assessment in grade 2 with scores on a standardised test delivered by the researchers at the end of grade 3. The pandemic had a large negative impact on the pupils' performance in mathematics (-0.19 standard deviations). Among children of low-educated parents, the learning loss was larger for the best-performing ones (up to -0.51 s.d.) and for girls (-0.29 s.d.).
    Keywords: COVID-19, school closure, learning loss, mathematics, standardised tests, inequality, primary school
    JEL: I21 I24
    Date: 2021–10
  2. By: Katharina Hartinger; Sven Resnjanskij; Jens Ruhose; Simon Wiederhold
    Abstract: There is an ongoing debate about the economic effects of individualism. We establish that individualism leads to better educational and labor market outcomes. Using data from the largest international adult skill assessment, we identify the effects of individualism by exploiting variation between migrants at the origin country, origin language, and person level. Migrants from more individualistic cultures have higher cognitive skills and larger skill gains over time. They also invest more in their skills over the life-cycle, as they acquire more years of schooling and are more likely to participate in adult education activities. In fact, individualism is more important in explaining adult skill formation than any other cultural trait that has been emphasized in previous literature. In the labor market, more individualistic migrants earn higher wages and are less often unemployed. We show that our results cannot be explained by selective migration or omitted origin-country variables.
    Keywords: cognitive skills, culture, individualism, labor market, international comparisons
    JEL: D91 J24 I20 Z13
    Date: 2021
  3. By: Ardyn Nordstrom
    Abstract: This paper uses a quasi-randomized field experiment in Zimbabwe to understand the impact of a large-scale intervention targeting community attitudes. I measure the impact that the program has had on attitudes, the behaviour of teachers and caregivers, and the learning and progression outcomes of at-risk youth. The quantitative survey and learning assessment data I use for this is complemented by transcripts from focus groups and interviews, which I analyze using innovative text mining methods to measure changes in community sentiment towards marginalized groups. I find that the program improved community attitudes toward girls’ education by 0.403 SD over the three and a half year project. This contributed to a 20.9 percentage point increase in the likelihood that students in the treatment group reported receiving enough support from their community to continue learning during COVID-19 school closures, along with other changes in the behaviours of community members and families. The program facilitated better learning and progression outcomes, with marginalized students performing 0.28 SD better on learning assessments after the project. These findings lead to two important conclusions about the efficacy of interventions designed to reshape community attitudes. The first is that community attitudes can be influenced in a relatively short time to become more supportive towards marginalized groups. The second is that these interventions can support education outcomes. This paper also demonstrates the usefulness of qualitative methods and natural language processing techniques for future experimental work.
    Keywords: Education, Attitudes, Development, Text mining, Mixed-methods evaluation
    JEL: I25 H43 C10
    Date: 2021–11
  4. By: Eric A. Hanushek; Babs Jacobs; Guido Schwerdt; Rolf van der Velden; Stan Vermeulen; Simon Wiederhold
    Abstract: The extensive literature on intergenerational mobility highlights the importance of family linkages but fails to provide credible evidence about the underlying family factors that drive the pervasive correlations. We employ a unique combination of Dutch survey and registry data that links math and language skills across generations. We identify a causal connection between cognitive skills of parents and their children by exploiting within-family between-subject variation in these skills. The data also permit novel IV estimation that isolates variation in parental cognitive skills due to school and peer quality. The between-subject and IV estimates of the key intergenerational persistence parameter are strikingly similar and close at about 0.1. Finally, we show the strong influence of family skill transmission on children’s choices of STEM fields.
    JEL: I24
    Date: 2021–11
  5. By: Boucher, Vincent (Université Laval); Del Bello, Carlo L. (Paris School of Economics); Panebianco, Fabrizio (Bocconi University); Verdier, Thierry (Paris School of Economics); Zenou, Yves (Monash University)
    Abstract: We propose a model of intergenerational transmission of education wherein children belong to either highly educated or low-educated families. Children choose the intensity of their social activities while parents decide how much educational effort to exert. Using data on adolescents in the United States, we structurally estimate this model and find that, on average, children's homophily acts as a complement to the educational effort of highly educated parents but as a substitute for the educational effort of low-educated parents. We also perform some counterfactual policy simulations. We find that policies that subsidize kids' socialization efforts can backfire for low-educated students because they tend to increase their interactions with other low-educated students (i.e., homophily), which reduces the education effort of their parents and, thus, their chance of becoming educated. On the contrary, policies that increase heterophily by favoring friendship links between kids from different education backgrounds can be effective in reducing the education gap between them.
    Keywords: social networks, education, homophily, cultural transmission
    JEL: D85 I21 Z13
    Date: 2021–10
  6. By: Julie Buhl-Wiggers; Jason T. Kerwin; Juan S. Muñoz-Morales; Jeffrey A. Smith; Rebecca Thornton
    Abstract: We document substantial variation in the effects of a highly-effective literacy pro-gram in northern Uganda. The program increases test scores by 1.40 SDs on average, but standard statistical bounds show that the impact standard deviation exceeds 1.0SD. This implies that the variation in effects across our students is wider than the spread of mean effects across all randomized evaluations of developing country education interventions in the literature. This very effective program does indeed leave some students behind. At the same time, we do not learn much from our analyses that attempt to determine which students benefit more or less from the program. We reject rank preservation, and the weaker assumption of stochastic increasingness leaves wide bounds on quantile-specific average treatment effects. Neither conventional nor machine-learning approaches to estimating systematic heterogeneity capture more than a small fraction of the variation in impacts given our available candidate moderators.
    JEL: C18 C21 I21 I25 J24
    Date: 2021–11
  7. By: Garcia-Brazales, Javier
    Abstract: There is increasing evidence in favor of non-unitary models of the household. Moreover, gender norms and values have been shown to be transmitted across generations and to affect intra-household allocations. I lever a unique opportunity to observe each spouse’s contributions to income, market, and home hours of parents and children (after forming their own household) in China and Australia to uncover a strong positive correlation between the female spouse’s relative contributions across two generations in the absence of reverse causality. This is robust to the inclusion of a rich vector of controls and provincial fixed effects. Exploiting large exogenous changes in education brought along by the Chinese 1986 Compulsory Education Law, I find that the degree of intergenerational transmission was disrupted by the reform, and that this happened heterogeneously across groups with different parental relative contributions. I further show that this was driven by a change in the attitudes towards gender norms, which suggests that transmission occurs at least partly through socialization and that policies can have a multiplier effect both within and across generations.
    Keywords: Intrahousehold Inequalities,Relative Spousal Contributions,Intergenerational Transmission,China,Australia
    JEL: D10 I24 J16
    Date: 2021
  8. By: Tobias Schultheiss; Uschi Backes-Gellner
    Abstract: This paper examines the role of lifelong learning in counteracting skill depreciation and obsolescence. We build on findings showing that different skill types have structurally different depreciation rates. We differentiate between hard and soft skills and measure the relative importance of these two skill types at the occupational level. As data source we draw on a large sample of job advertisements and a categorization of their skill requirements through a machine-learning algorithm. We analyze lifelong learning effects for "harder" occupations (with relatively more hard than soft skills) versus "softer" occupations. Our results reveal important patterns of skill depreciation and counteracting lifelong learning effects: In harder occupations, the role of lifelong learning is primarily as a hedge against unemployment risks caused by fast-depreciating hard skills; in softer occupations, this role instead lies mostly in acting as a boost to wage gains and upward career mobility as workers build on a value-stable skill foundation.
    JEL: I26 J24
    Date: 2021–11
  9. By: Boero, Gianna (Department of Economics, University of Warwick); Nathwani, Tej (Higher Education Statistics Agency); Naylor, Robin (Department of Economics, University of Warwick); Smith, Jeremy (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)
    Abstract: A long-standing puzzle in the economics of education concerns the observed constancy of the average earnings premium for a degree despite a prolonged period of substantial growth in the share of graduates in the working population in the UK. Focusing on birth cohorts between 1970 and 1990, we produce evidence of a recent decline in the earnings premium for graduates over non-graduates by age 26. For those born in 1990, we estimate an average graduate earnings premium of 10%, contrasting with an estimate of 17% for the 1970 birth cohort. We also find a substantial increase in dispersion around the average premium according to class of degree awarded. Combined with a falling average, this has left the earnings of 1990-born graduates awarded lower degree classes only 3% above that of non-graduates. Among the 1970-born cohort, the equivalent earnings premium was 14%. We suggest that this precipitous fall is consistent with a ‘double-scarring’ effect associated with the combination of increased higher education participation and a rise in the proportion of graduates awarded an upper honours degree over the span of the two cohorts.
    Date: 2021
  10. By: Boneva, Teodora (University of Bonn); Buser, Thomas (University of Amsterdam); Falk, Armin (briq, University of Bonn); Kosse, Fabian (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
    Abstract: We present evidence on the role of the social environment for the development of gender differences in competitiveness and earnings expectations. First, we document that the gender gap in competitiveness and earnings expectations is more pronounced among adolescents with low socioeconomic status (SES). We further document that there is a positive association between the competitiveness of mothers and their daughters, but not between the competitiveness of mothers and their sons. Second, we show that a randomized mentoring intervention that exposes low-SES children to predominantly female role models causally affects girls' willingness to compete and narrows both the gender gap in competitiveness as well as the gender gap in earnings expectations. Together, the results highlight the importance of the social environment in shaping willingness to compete and earnings expectations at a young age.
    Keywords: competitiveness, gender, socioeconomic status, inequality, earnings expectations
    JEL: I24 J16
    Date: 2021–10
  11. By: Ingo E. Isphording (Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) / CESifo); Marc Diederichs (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz); Reyn van Ewijk (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz); Nico Pestel (Maastricht University / Institute of Labor Economics (IZA))
    Abstract: We use event-study models based on staggered summer vacations in Germany to estimate the effect of school re-openings after the summer of 2021 on the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Estimations are based on daily counts of confirmed coronavirus infections across all 401 German counties. Our results are consistent with mandatory testing contributing to containment of cases by uncovering otherwise undetected (asymptomatic) cases. Case numbers in school-aged children spike in the first week after the summer breaks but then turn not significantly di erent from zero. Case numbers in prime-aged age groups gradually decrease after school re-openings, arguably as a result of detected clusters through the school testing. The age group 60+ remains una ected by the school re-openings. We conclude that the combination of mandatory testing and compulsory school attendance can provide an unbiased and near-complete surveillance of the pandemic. Thus, under certain conditions open schools can play a role in containing the spread of the virus. The trade-o between reducing contacts and losing an important monitoring device has to be taken seriously when re-considering school closures as a nonpharmaceutical intervention under the current circumstances.
    Keywords: COVID-19, schooling, education, Germany
    Date: 2021–11–15
  12. By: Ángel de la Fuente; Rafael Doménech
    Abstract: Scores in standardized international student achievement tests and some recent adult literacy studies provide interesting data on the quality of educational outputs and on the skill level of the population that can be a useful complement to the data on the quantity of schooling which have been most commonly used in the growth literature. This paper describes the most recent available primary data on the subject, reviews different attempts to organize, standardize and summarize them, and discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the existing indicators and their potential usefulness as explanatory variables in empirical analyses of the determinants of income and welfare levels and growth rates. A final section investigates the distribution of these indicators across a sample of 21 core OECD countries.
    Date: 2021–11
  13. By: Batista, Catia (Nova School of Business and Economics); Sequeira, Sandra (London School of Economics); Vicente, Pedro C. (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
    Abstract: We examine the impact of providing access to mobile savings accounts and improving financial management skills on the performance of female-led microenterprises in Mozambique. We find evidence that both interventions can improve business performance but the effects are highly heterogeneous. Combining both types of support is associated with a large increase in both short and long-term firm profits and in financial security for the microentrepreneur. This allowed female-headed microenterprises, particularly those with a higher baseline level of profits, to close the gender profit gap in performance and skills relative to their male counterparts. The main drivers of improved business performance are improved financial management practices (bookkeeping), an increase in accessible savings, and reduced transfers to friends and relatives. For female entrepreneurs with intermediate levels of profits at baseline, even just providing access to mobile money accounts can increase long-term profits and for the most disadvantaged microentrepreneurs it can at least in-crease levels of financial security. Uncovering this heterogeneity in impact within different types of female-led microenterprises can help improve the targeting of these interventions in the future.
    Keywords: microenterprise development, management, gender, mobile money, financial literacy, economic development
    JEL: O15 O16 G53 J16
    Date: 2021–10

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