nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2022‒07‒18
eight papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. School Value-Added and Long-Term Student Outcomes By Lars J. Kirkebøen
  2. Closing the Gap Between Vocational and General Education? Evidence from University Technical Colleges in England By Stephen Machin; Sandra McNally; Camille Terrier; Guglielmo Ventura
  3. High School and Exam Scores: Does Their Predictive Validity for Academic Performance Vary with Programme Selectivity? By Silva, Pedro Luís; Sá, Carla; Biscaia, Ricardo; Teixeira, Pedro N.
  4. Excellence for All? University Honors Programs and Human Capital Formation By Pugatch, Todd; Thompson, Paul N.
  5. Educational inequality after high school graduation - there is a way to change that: An inquiry into the effectiveness of an intensive counseling program 1.5 years after high school graduation By Erdmann, Melinda; Pietrzyk, Irena Magdalena; Schneider, Juliana; Helbig, Marcel; Jacob, Marita; Allmendinger, Jutta
  6. The Big Five Personality Traits and Earnings: A Meta-Analysis By Giammarco Alderotti; Chiara Rapallini; Silvio Traverso
  7. Cognitive Endurance as Human Capital By Christina L. Brown; Supreet Kaur; Geeta Kingdon; Heather Schofield
  8. Four Facts about Human Capital By David J. Deming

  1. By: Lars J. Kirkebøen
    Abstract: Several recent studies find that interventions in schools can have important lasting consequences for students, and that schools differ in their contribution to students’ learning. However, there is less research investigating how these differences between schools influence longer-term outcomes, especially outside the US. In this paper I study the value-added (VA) of Norwegian schools, where between-school differences are smaller than in the US. I find that VA indicators are able to predict in-school performance without bias. Furthermore, VA is strongly related to long-term outcomes, and differences between schools in VA correspond to meaningful differences in long-term outcomes. For example, a one standard deviation higher VA corresponds to 1.9 percent higher earnings at around age 32. Three quasi-experiments using variation from student mobility and changes in neighborhoods’ assignment to schools indicate that the differences captured by the VA indicators do indeed reflect differences in school quality, rather than unobserved student characteristics. Analyses of teacher grades and exam scores suggest that the former are heavily influenced by relative grading, and that the effect of exam score VA on long-term outcomes reflects the effects of competencies and skills acquired in school. In addition to shedding light on the differences in and mechanisms of school quality, the findings help connect learning outcomes with later labor market outcomes, e.g. for cost-benefit analysis of interventions in schools.
    Keywords: climate economics, international environmental agreements, coalition formation, heterogeneous countries, integrated assessment models
    JEL: Q54 D70 D50
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Stephen Machin; Sandra McNally; Camille Terrier; Guglielmo Ventura
    Abstract: Some countries, notably those which have long had a weak history of vocational education like the UK and the US, have recently seen a rapid expansion of hybrid schools which provide both general and vocational education. England introduced 'University Technical Colleges' (UTCs) in 2010 for students aged 14 to 18. 48 UTCs are currently open. We use a spatial instrumental variable approach based on geographical availability to evaluate the causal effect of attending a UTC on student academic and vocational achievement and on their labour market outcomes. For those pupils who enter the UTC at a non-standard transition age of 14, UTCs dramatically reduce their academic achievement on national exams at age 16. However, for students who enter at a more conventional transition age of 16, UTCs boost vocational achievement without harming academic achievement. They also improve achievement in STEM qualifications, and enrolment in apprenticeships. By age 19, UTC students are less likely to be unemployed and more likely to study STEM at university.
    Keywords: technical education, tracking, school value-added
    JEL: I20 I21 I28
    Date: 2020–10–14
  3. By: Silva, Pedro Luís (University of Porto); Sá, Carla (CIPES – Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies); Biscaia, Ricardo (CIPES – Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies); Teixeira, Pedro N. (University of Porto)
    Abstract: Students are admitted into higher education based on their past performance. This paper compares two measures of past cognitive skills: teacher and national exam scores. By using a nationwide dataset, we look at how the predictive power of teacher assessment and exam scores for selecting successful students may vary with the degree of selectivity of higher education programmes. We find that teacher scores predict students' performance in higher education more accurately, and its predictive power remains the same independently of the selectivity programme indicator considered. We found that national exam scores are noisier and only gain relevance for highly selective programmes. Furthermore, we explore national exams' volatility and institutional selectivity as potential mechanisms to justify the results. Our results provide solid policy hints on the role that high school scores and admission exams should have for access and performance in higher education.
    Keywords: admission exams, teacher scores, higher education, selectivity
    JEL: I23 I21 I20 J24
    Date: 2022–06
  4. By: Pugatch, Todd (Oregon State University); Thompson, Paul N. (Oregon State University)
    Abstract: Can public university honors programs deliver the benefits of selective undergraduate education within otherwise nonselective institutions? We evaluate the impact of admission to the Honors College at Oregon State University, a large nonselective public university. Admission to the Honors College depends heavily on a numerical application score. Nonlinearities in admissions probabilities as a function of this score allow us to compare applicants with similar scores, but different admissions outcomes, via a fuzzy regression kink design. The first stage is strong, with takeup of Honors College programming closely following nonlinearities in admissions probabilities. To estimate the causal effect of Honors College admission on human capital formation, we use these nonlinearities in the admissions function as instruments, combined with course-section fixed effects to account for strategic course selection. Honors College admission increases course grades by 0.10 grade points on the 0-4 scale, or 0.14 standard deviations. Effects are concentrated at the top of the course grade distribution. Previous exposure to Honors sections of courses in the same subject is a leading potential channel for increased grades. However, course grades of first-generation students decrease in response to Honors admission, driven by low performance in natural science courses. Results suggest that selective Honors programs can accelerate skill acquisition for high-achieving students at public universities, but not all students benefit from Honors admission.
    Keywords: economics of education, higher education, university honors programs, regression kink design
    JEL: I21 I23 I26
    Date: 2022–06
  5. By: Erdmann, Melinda; Pietrzyk, Irena Magdalena; Schneider, Juliana; Helbig, Marcel; Jacob, Marita; Allmendinger, Jutta
    Abstract: The German education system is characterized by strong social inequalities in university access. These may be reduced by offering individual counseling sessions to students in their final two years of high school. The study "Zukunftsund Berufspläne nach dem Abitur" (ZuBAb)1 examines how such intensive and individual guidance counseling affects participants' educational trajectories using an experimental design that allows for making internally valid inferences regarding the program's causal effects. Based on data (N = 1,064) collected about 1.5 years after participants earned their university entrance diploma (Abitur), we looked at whether the program promotes university enrollment among persons of low educational origin, whether it reduces educational inequalities at the transition from school to higher education, and how educational trajectories change in the period between 0.5 years and 1.5 years after graduation, depending on whether students received counseling or not. The results show a strong program effect of 8 percentage points on university enrollment rates among persons of low educational origin and a strong inequality-reducing effect of the counseling program (15 percentage points or 71 percent in relative terms). The program's positive impact stems from the fact that participation tends to improve fit between a student's academic performance and the educational pathway chosen after graduation. Moreover, the results show that positive program effects begin to emerge only after 1.5 years post-graduation (whereas no positive effect was found 0.5 years after graduation) because persons who start a gap year experience (e.g., voluntary community service year) right after earning their Abitur are especially likely to benefit from program participation. Additionally, a detailed breakdown of educational trajectories over time shows that the program not only promotes university enrollment among persons of low educational origin and enrollment in vocational training schemes among persons of high educational origin but also, in descriptive terms, helps graduates start any kind of post-school educational pathway. The findings make clear that studies designed to make comprehensive inferences about the effects of educational programs should also consider persons of high educational origin and should look not only at university enrollment but also at the smooth transition to any kind of postsecondary educational pathway. They also show that researchers and practitioners need to be patient because there may be some delay until measurable positive effects of individual counseling sessions begin to unfold.
    Keywords: educational inequality,university enrollment,intervention
    Date: 2022
  6. By: Giammarco Alderotti; Chiara Rapallini; Silvio Traverso
    Abstract: The past two decades have witnessed an increasing interest in the relationship between personality and labor market outcomes, as well as the emergence of the Five-Factor Model as the reference framework for the study of personality. In this paper, we provide the first meta-analytical review of the empirical literature on the association between personal earnings and the Big Five personality traits. The analysis combines the results of 62 peer-reviewed articles published between 2001-2020, from which we retrieved 896 partial effect sizes. Overall, the primary literature provides robust support for a positive association between personal earnings and the traits of Openness, Conscientiousness, and Extraversion, while simultaneously revealing a negative and significant association between earnings and the traits of Agreeableness and Neuroticism. We find no evidence of a substantial publication bias. Meta-regression estimates suggest that Openness and Conscientiousness are positively associated with earnings even when primary researchers control for individual cognitive abilities and educational attainments. Similarly, the studies that include labor market control variables exhibit weaker associations between earnings and Extraversion and Agreeableness. The results of the primary studies seem unaffected by the time at which the Big Five are measured, as well as by the scale and number of inventory items. Meta-regression estimates suggest that the results of the primary literature are not stable across cultures and gender, and that the ranking and academic field of the journal matter.
    Keywords: Big Five personality traits, earnings, meta-analysis.
    JEL: J24 D91
    Date: 2022
  7. By: Christina L. Brown; Supreet Kaur; Geeta Kingdon; Heather Schofield
    Abstract: Schooling may build human capital not only by teaching academic skills, but by expanding the capacity for cognition itself. We focus specifically on cognitive endurance: the ability to sustain effortful mental activity over a continuous stretch of time. As motivation, we document that globally and in the US, the poor exhibit cognitive fatigue more quickly than the rich across field settings; they also attend schools that offer fewer opportunities to practice thinking for continuous stretches. Using a field experiment with 1,600 Indian primary school students, we randomly increase the amount of time students spend in sustained cognitive activity during the school day—using either math problems (mimicking good schooling) or non-academic games (providing a pure test of our mechanism). Each approach markedly improves cognitive endurance: students show 22% less decline in performance over time when engaged in intellectual activities—listening comprehension, academic problems, or IQ tests. They also exhibit increased attentiveness in the classroom and score higher on psychological measures of sustained attention. Moreover, each treatment improves students’ school performance by 0.09 standard deviations. This indicates that the experience of effortful thinking itself—even when devoid of any subject content—increases the ability to accumulate traditional human capital. Finally, we complement these results with quasi-experimental variation indicating that an additional year of schooling improves cognitive endurance, but only in higher-quality schools. Our findings suggest that schooling disparities may further disadvantage poor children by hampering the development of a core mental capacity.
    JEL: D90 I24 I25 O12
    Date: 2022–06
  8. By: David J. Deming
    Abstract: This paper synthesizes what economists have learned about human capital since Becker (1962) into four stylized facts. First, human capital explains at least one-third of the variation in labor earnings within countries and at least half of the variation across countries. Second, human capital investments have high economic returns throughout childhood and young adulthood. Third, we know how to build foundational skills such as literacy and numeracy, and resources are often the main constraint. Fourth, higher-order skills such as problem-solving and teamwork are increasingly valuable, and the technology for producing these skills is not well-understood. We know that investment in education works and that skills matter for earnings, but we do not always know why.
    JEL: I25 I26 J24
    Date: 2022–06

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