nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2022‒05‒16
eight papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Do Second Chances Pay Off? Evidence from a Natural Experiment with Low-Achieving Students By Aspasia Bizopoulou; Rigissa Megalokonomou; Stefania Simion
  2. Returns to Different Postsecondary Investments: Institution Type, Academic Programs, and Credentials By Michael F. Lovenheim; Jonathan Smith
  3. School Indiscipline and Crime By Tony Beatton; Michael P. Kidd; Matteo Sandi
  4. The Education-Innovation Gap By Barbara Biasi; Song Ma
  5. Tutoring in (Online) Higher Education: Experimental Evidence By David Hardt; Markus Nagler; Johannes Rincke
  6. Gender Differences in Persistence in a Field of Study: This Isn’t All about Grades By Michael Kaganovich; Morgan Taylor; Ruli Xiao
  7. Educational Inequality By Jo Blanden; Matthias Doepke; Jan Stuhler
  8. The Effect of Federal Grants on Student Outcomes By Ian Fillmore; Sean McMahon

  1. By: Aspasia Bizopoulou; Rigissa Megalokonomou; Stefania Simion
    Abstract: In several countries, students who fail end-of-high-school high-stakes exams are faced with the choice of retaking them or forgoing postsecondary education. We explore exogenous variation generated by a 2006 policy that imposed a performance threshold for admission into postsecondary education in Greece to estimate the effect of retaking exams on a range of outcomes. Using a fuzzy regression discontinuity design and novel administrative data, we find that low-achieving students who retake national exams improve their performance by half a standard deviation, but do not receive offers from higher quality postsecondary placements. The driving mechanism for these results stems from increased competition.
    Keywords: postsecondary education admission, low-achieving students, exogenous policy, fuzzy regression discontinuity design
    JEL: J16 I21 I23
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Michael F. Lovenheim; Jonathan Smith
    Abstract: Early research on the returns to higher education treated the postsecondary system as a monolith. In reality, postsecondary education in the United States and around the world is highly differentiated, with a variety of options that differ by credential (associates degree, bachelor’s degree, diploma, certificate, graduate degree), the control of the institution (public, private not-for-profit, private for-profit), the quality/resources of the institution, field of study, and exposure to remedial education. In this Chapter, we review the literature on the returns to these different types of higher education investments, which has received increasing attention in recent decades. We first provide an overview of the structure of higher education in the U.S. and around the world, followed by a model that helps clarify and articulate the assumptions employed by different estimators used in the literature. We then discuss the research on the return to institution type, focusing on the return to two-year, four-year, and for-profit institutions as well as the return to college quality within and across these institution types. We also present the research on the return to different educational programs, including vocational credentials, remedial education, field of study, and graduate school. The wide variation in the returns to different postsecondary investments that we document leads to the question of how students from different backgrounds sort into these different institutions and programs. We discuss the emerging research showing that lower-SES students, especially in the U.S., are more likely to sort into colleges and programs with lower returns as well as results from recent U.S.-based interventions and policies designed to support success among students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Chapter concludes with some broad directions for future research.
    JEL: I23 I24 I26
    Date: 2022–04
  3. By: Tony Beatton; Michael P. Kidd; Matteo Sandi
    Abstract: This paper studies the impact of compulsory schooling on in-school violence using individual-level administrative data matching education and criminal records from Queensland. Exploiting a dropout age reform in 2006, it defines a series of regression-discontinuity specifications. While police records show that property and drug offences decrease, education records indicate that in-school violence increases. Effects concentrate among students with prior criminal records and their classmates, with greater exposure to in-school violence leading to increased criminality at older ages. Dropout age reforms may alter the school environment and prior studies that fail to consider in-school behaviour may over-estimate their short-run crime-reducing impact.
    Keywords: youth crime, minimum dropout age, school attendance
    JEL: I20 K42
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Barbara Biasi; Song Ma
    Abstract: This paper documents differences across higher-education courses in the coverage of frontier knowledge. Comparing the text of 1.7M syllabi and 20M academic articles, we construct the “education-innovation gap,” a syllabus’s relative proximity to old and new knowledge. We show that courses differ greatly in the extent to which they cover frontier knowledge. More selective and better funded schools, and those enrolling socio-economically advantaged students, teach more frontier knowledge. Instructors play a big role in shaping course content; research-active instructors teach more frontier knowledge. Students from schools teaching more frontier knowledge are more likely to complete a PhD, produce more patents, and earn more after graduation.
    Keywords: education, innovation, syllabi, instructors, text analysis, inequality
    JEL: I23 I24 I26 J24 O33
    Date: 2022
  5. By: David Hardt; Markus Nagler; Johannes Rincke
    Abstract: Demand for personalized online tutoring in higher education is growing but there is little research on its effectiveness. We conducted an RCT offering remote peer tutoring in micro- and macroeconomics at a German university teaching online due to the Covid-pandemic. Treated students met in small groups, in alternating weeks with and without a more senior student tutor. The treatment improved study behavior and increased contact to other students. Tutored students achieved around 30% more credits and a one grade level better GPA across treated subjects. Our findings suggest that the program reduced outcome inequality. We find no impacts on mental health.
    Keywords: tutoring, higher education, online teaching, Covid, mental health
    JEL: I20 I23 I24 I10
    Date: 2022
  6. By: Michael Kaganovich (Indiana University, Department of Economics); Morgan Taylor (University of Georgia); Ruli Xiao (Indiana University, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: Weaker retention of women in quantitatively oriented fields, particularly STEM2 is widely seen in US higher education. Focusing particularly on STEM, the literature documents the fact of less generous grading practices in these fields compared to most other disciplines, as well as the phenomenon of gender gap in student persistence in these fields in response to their grade performance there. We examine student persistence in a wide spectrum of academic fields using a rich Indiana University Learning Analytics dataset. To explore the mechanisms that underlie the gender gaps in persistence in different fields we explicitly decompose them into components attributable to the tastes for a field and for the grades in it. We demonstrate that these differences vary in magnitude as well as direction across disciplines. We find that it is women’s (or men’s) weaker preference for a field of study, rather than their possible lower tolerance for bad grades per se, that is predominantly responsible for making them relatively more responsive to bad grades received in it; in fact, we find that men have stronger taste for grades than do women in each of the major academic categories at the University. In particular, we estimate that STEM-starting women are less averse to low grades there than men but have weaker taste for STEM, resulting in their overall lower retention there. Finally, we undertake a counterfactual experiment of relaxing grading standards in STEM and find that, depending on specific structure of students’ taste for grades, this will have at best little effect on women’s inferior retention, and may exacerbate it.
    Keywords: college major choice, persistence, sensitivity to grades
    Date: 2022–04
  7. By: Jo Blanden (University of Surrey); Matthias Doepke (Northwestern University); Jan Stuhler (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
    Abstract: This chapter provides new evidence on educational inequality and reviews the literature on the causes and consequences of unequal education. We document large achievement gaps between children from different socioeconomic backgrounds, show how patterns of educational inequality vary across countries, time, and generations, and establish a link between educational inequality and social mobility. We interpret this evidence from the perspective of economic models of skill acquisition and investment in human capital. The models account for different channels underlying unequal education and highlight how endogenous responses in parents’ and children's educational investments generate a close link between economic inequality and educational inequality. Given concerns over the extended school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic, we also summarize early evidence on the impact of the pandemic on children’s education and on possible long-run repercussions for educational inequality.
    Keywords: COVID-19, skill acquisition, educational inequality
    JEL: I24 J16 I24 I00
    Date: 2022–04
  8. By: Ian Fillmore (Washington University in St. Louis); Sean McMahon (Analysis Group)
    Abstract: Federal financial aid depends on a student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC)--the higher her EFC, the less aid a student receives. We estimate the effect of increasing federal aid on student outcomes by leveraging an increase in the income threshold for an "automatic zero EFC," which qualifies students for the most generous federal aid. We find little evidence that expanding eligibility for an automatic zero EFC affected student outcomes. We argue this may be due to the volatility of federal aid from year to year and highlight this as an important dimension for future research.
    Keywords: financial aid, Expected Family Contribution, EFC, volatility of federal aid
    JEL: H52 H81 I22
    Date: 2022–04

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