nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2021‒12‒20
nine papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. The Outflow of High-ability Students from Regular Schools and Its Long-term Impact on Those Left Behind By Miroslava Federicova
  2. Inadequate Teacher Content Knowledge and What to Do About It: Evidence from El Salvador By Aymo Brunetti; Konstantin Büchel; Martina Jakob; Ben Jann; Daniel Steffen
  3. College Major Restrictions and Student Stratification By Bleemer , Zachary; Mehta, Aashish
  4. Goals and guesses as reference points: A field experiment on student performance By Gerardo Sabater-Grande; Nikolaos Georgantzís; Noemí Herranz-Zarzoso
  5. A Second Chance at Success? Effects of College Grade Forgiveness Policies on Student Outcomes By Xuan Jiang; Kelly Chen; Zeynep K. Hansen; Scott Lowe
  6. Heterogeneity in Labor Market Returns to Adult Education By Kauhanen, Antti; Virtanen, Hanna
  7. Educational expectations of UK teenagers and the role of socio-economic status and economic preferences By Silvan Has; Jake Anders; John Jerrim; Nikki Shure
  8. Rising Political Populism and Outmigration of Youth as International Students By Murat Demirci
  9. Free-School-Lunch Policies: Impact Evaluation on Student BMI and Mental Health By Dirk Bethmann; Jae Il Cho

  1. By: Miroslava Federicova
    Abstract: Early tracking school systems, which stream student by ability, are considered a trigger of widening inequality in education. However, more homogenous class composition resulting from ability tracking seem to improve efficiency of teaching and learning. Literature on peer effects shows contradictory findings about these two counteracting effects. This paper contributes to the discussion of the efficacy of ability tracking by examining the effects of the outflow of high-ability students after primary education on the long-term educational outcomes and behaviour of their peers who remain in regular classes. Exploiting a 2009 school reform in Slovakia which postponed tracking by one year, we show that the outflow of high-performing peers results in a weak negative longrun effect on non-tracked student’s math scores and late arrivals at school, and more persistent negative effects on out-of-school study time.
    Keywords: early-tracking school system; peer effects; gender effects; Slovak school reform;
    JEL: I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2021–11
  2. By: Aymo Brunetti; Konstantin Büchel; Martina Jakob; Ben Jann; Daniel Steffen
    Abstract: Good teachers are the backbone of a successful education system. Yet, in developing countries, teachers' content knowledge is often inadequate. This study documents that primary school math teachers in the department of Morazan in El Salvador only master 47 percent of the curriculum they teach. In a randomized controlled trial with 175 teachers, we further evaluate a computer-assisted learning (CAL) approach to address this shortcoming. After a ve months in-service training combining CAL-based self-studying with monthly workshops, participating teachers outperformed their peers from the control group by 0.29, but this e ect depreciated by 72 percent within one year. Our simulations show that the program is unlikely to be as cost-e ective as CAL interventions directly targeting students.
    Keywords: Education quality, teacher performance, teacher training, student learning, basic math education, computer-assisted learning
    JEL: C93 I20 I21 I28 O15
    Date: 2021–12
  3. By: Bleemer , Zachary; Mehta, Aashish
    Abstract: Underrepresented minority (URM) college students have been steadily earning degrees in relatively less-lucrative fields of study since the mid-1990s. A decomposition reveals that this widening gap is principally explained by rising stratification at public research universities, many of which increasingly enforce GPA restriction policies that prohibit students with poor introductory grades from declaring popular majors. We investigate these GPA restrictions by constructing a novel 50-year dataset covering four public research universities’ student transcripts and employing a dynamic difference-in-difference design around the implementation of 29 restrictions. Restricted majors’ average URM enrollment share falls by 20 percent, which matches observational patterns and can be explained by URM students’ poorer average pre-college academic preparation. Using first-term course enrollments to identify students who intend to earn restricted majors, we find that major restrictions disproportionately lead URM students from their intended major toward less-lucrative fields, driving within-institution ethnic stratification and likely exacerbating labor market disparities.
    Keywords: Education, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Educational Equity, Higher Education Policy, College Majors, Student Stratification
    Date: 2021–12–06
  4. By: Gerardo Sabater-Grande (LEE and Department of Economics, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain); Nikolaos Georgantzís (WSB Lab and School of Wine and Spirits Business, Burgundy School of Business, Dijon, France and LEE and Department of Economics, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain); Noemí Herranz-Zarzoso (LEE, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, and Department of Economic Analysis, Universitat de València, Spain)
    Abstract: In this paper, we study overconfidence and goal-setting in academic performance, with and without monetary incentives. Students enrolled in a Microeconomics course were offered the possibility of setting their own target grade before taking part in the final exam. They were also asked to guess their grade immediately after they had taken the exam (“post-diction”). In general, students overestimated their performance, both at the goal-setting and at the post-diction stages. Controlling for several sources of this bias (cognitive abilities, academic record, risk preferences and self-reported academic confidence), we find that the use of monetary rewards mitigates the overestimation of potential achievements and eliminates overestimation of actual achievements through the improvement of actual performance. Our results suggest that monetary incentives do not cause subjects to put more effort into correct guesses but makes them put more effort into academic performance. Using students’ academic records to measure overall skill, we find a strong Dunning-Kruger bias which is intensified in the presence of monetary rewards.
    Keywords: overconfidence bias, reference points, self-chosen goals, post-dictions, monetary incentives, Dunning-Kruger cognitive bia
    JEL: C93 D03
    Date: 2021
  5. By: Xuan Jiang; Kelly Chen; Zeynep K. Hansen; Scott Lowe
    Abstract: The increased popularity of college Grade Forgiveness policies, which allow students to retake classes and substitute the new grades for the previous grades in their GPA calculations, is controversial yet understudied. Our paper is the first to ask whether such policies benefit students and how. To answer these questions, we use student-level admissions and transcript data from a four-year public institution in the U.S. that underwent two major changes in its GPA policy. We find that Grade Forgiveness significantly incentivizes students, especially students with the strongest academic preparation, to take STEM courses and challenging courses and to enroll in more credits. The increased variations in within-term grades suggest that students may change their effort allocations between courses taken in the same semester and spend more effort on courses that promise a higher grade in return. We also find that repeaters whose first attempted grades are forgiven are more likely to persist in the failed subject and obtain better grades subsequently. Finally, we see an increase in graduation in STEM majors for students who were intensively exposed to this policy.
    JEL: I21 I23
    Date: 2021–11
  6. By: Kauhanen, Antti; Virtanen, Hanna
    Abstract: Abstract We study the earnings and employment effects of enrollment in formal adult education in Finland using a combination of matching and panel data methods. We also conduct cost-benefit analyses. The results show that adult education increases earnings and employment both in secondary and higher education, but the magnitude depends on the original level of education. The earnings and employment effects are the largest for the less educated group (those with only compulsory education). For those already having a degree from higher education, the employment and earnings effects are small. There is substantial heterogeneity behind the average effects. The earning gains differ by field and type of education both in secondary and higher education. Cost-benefit analysis shows that at the individual level, the benefits exceed the costs for those with compulsory and secondary education but not for those with higher education. When the societal costs and benefits are considered, we find that the benefits exceed the costs mostly when the individuals upgrade their level of education and are young enough. The results suggest that public investments in adult education should be carefully targeted. This could for example mean targeting individuals who upgrade their qualifications.
    Keywords: Adult education, Employment, Earnings
    JEL: I21 I26 J31
    Date: 2021–12–15
  7. By: Silvan Has (UCL Social Research Institute); Jake Anders (UCL Centre for Education Policy & Equalising Opportunities); John Jerrim (UCL Social Research Institute); Nikki Shure (UCL Social Research Institute)
    Abstract: Young people's decision making process to go to university might depend on both family background and character traits. In this study, we research the association between long-term socio-economic status (SES) during adolescence, economic preferences such as risk attitudes and time preferences, and teenagers' expectations of going to university. Using data on British teenagers from the Millennium Cohort Study we find that higher SES is associated with higher educational expectations. Furthermore, more patient teenagers think it more likely for them to go to university. However, risk attitudes are not associated with educational expectations. All results are robust to including rich sets of background variables including cognitive measures and school grades. This implies that for the British education system to become more meritocratic and to improve intergenerational mobility, future policies should target the SES gap in educational expectations. Furthermore, improving patience in young people could be a channel through which educational policy helps improve university attendance.
    Keywords: Human capital formation; Educational investment; Risk preferences; Time preferences; Socio-economic status.
    JEL: I24
    Date: 2021–11
  8. By: Murat Demirci (Department of Economics, Koç University)
    Abstract: Populism is on the rise, and democratic rights are deteriorating in many countries as a result of authoritarian policies adopted by populist leaders. This study analyzes how rising political populism in developing countries affects whether their citizens pursue higher education abroad. Applying the Synthetic Control Method, student migration patterns from Hungary, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Indonesia are explored as cases constituting early examples of populism. The estimates show that the rise of populism in these countries increases the number of citizens who attend universities in foreign countries. Limited evidence for worsening higher education options in the origin countries suggests that more students start pursuing foreign education to increase their chances of living abroad after graduation.
    Keywords: International Students, Outmigration of Skilled People, Political Populism, Synthetic Control Method.
    JEL: F22 I23 J24 O15
    Date: 2021–12
  9. By: Dirk Bethmann (Korea University; Department of Economics; Anam-dong, Sungbuk-gu; Seoul 02841); Jae Il Cho (Vanderbilt University; Department of Economics; 010-back Calhoun Hall, Nashville, TN, 37240, United States)
    Abstract: In spring 2015, the South Korean province of South Gyeongsang stopped providing free school lunches to primary and secondary school students while large portions of schools in other provinces continued to provide free lunches at school. After the provincial governmentfaced strong opposition, South Gyeongsang reintroduced the free school lunch program the very next year. Using a difference-in-differences design, we use these policy changes to evaluate their impact on students’ body mass index (BMI) and mental health status. Our results show that abolishing the free-lunch policy had negative effects on students’ BMI as well as mental health status; furthermore the effects reversed once the policy was reintroduced. The results have strong policy implications: introducing free school lunches increases both the physical and mental health of students and as a result, student welfare. Free-lunch policies, therefore, provide simple and inexpensive instruments to improve learning environments
    Keywords: free lunch policies; difference in differences design; student health
    JEL: I14 I28 I31 C23
    Date: 2021

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