nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2022‒09‒12
five papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Much ado about nothing? School Curriculum Reforms and Students' Educational Trajectories By Maurizio Strazzeri; Chantal Oggenfuss; Stefan C. Wolter
  2. Losing Prospective Entitlement to Unemployment Benefits. Impact on Educational Attainment By Cockx, Bart; Declercq, Koen; Dejemeppe, Muriel
  3. Wheels of Change: Transforming Girls' Lives with Bicycles By Nathan Fiala; Ana Garcia-Hernandez; Kritika Narula; Nishith Prakash
  4. Will the last be the first? School closures and educational outcomes By Michele Battisti; Giuseppe Maggio
  5. COVID-19 and the Gender Gap in University Student Performance By Bratti, Massimiliano; Lippo, Enrico

  1. By: Maurizio Strazzeri; Chantal Oggenfuss; Stefan C. Wolter
    Abstract: We estimate the impact of a large curriculum reform in Switzerland that substantially increased the share of foreign language classes in compulsory school on students' subsequent educational choices in upper secondary school. Using administrative student register data and exploiting the staggered implementation of the curriculum reform, we find that exposure to more foreign language classes during compulsory school has only minor effects on educational choices of the overall student population. However, we find substantial effect heterogeneity: while the reform has no effect on the direct educational progression of either low-track female or high-track students, it impedes low-track male students' transition to upper secondary education. The effect of foreign language classes on the educational trajectory of low-track male students is particularly pronounced for students who do not speak at home the school's language of instruction. Finally, we find that female students who start vocational training immediately after compulsory school are more likely to select into training occupations that require higher foreign language skills instead of natural science skills.
    Keywords: Policy Evaluation, Goodman-Bacon Decomposition, Education Reform, Foreign Language Skills, Compulsory School, Educational Choices, Occupational Choices
    JEL: I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2022–08
  2. By: Cockx, Bart (Ghent University); Declercq, Koen (Catholic University Louvain); Dejemeppe, Muriel (Université catholique de Louvain)
    Abstract: Providing income support to unemployed education-leavers reduces the returns to investments in education because it makes the consequences of unemployment less severe. We evaluate a two-part policy reform in Belgium to study whether conditioning the prospective entitlement to unemployment benefits for education-leavers on age or schooling attainment can affect educational achievements. The results show that the prospect of financial loss in case of unemployment can significantly raise degree completion and reduce dropout in higher education, but not in high school. We argue that the higher prevalence of behavioral biases among lower educated and younger students could explain these contrasting findings.
    Keywords: unemployment insurance, conditionality, degree completion, school dropout, behavioral biases
    JEL: H52 I21 I26 I28 J08 J18 J24 J65 J68
    Date: 2022–07
  3. By: Nathan Fiala; Ana Garcia-Hernandez; Kritika Narula; Nishith Prakash
    Abstract: Reducing the gender gap in education is a primary goal for many countries. Some major challenges for many girls include the distance to school, their safety when commuting to school, lack of agency, and deep-rooted cultural norms. In Zambia, we studied the impact of providing a bicycle to a school-going girl who lives more than 3 km from the school. We randomized whether a girl received a bicycle with a small cost to her family to cover replacement parts, a bicycle where these costs are covered by the program, and therefore is zero cost to the family, or a control group. One year after the intervention, we find that the bicycle reduced average commuting time to school by 35%, reduced late arrival by 66%, and decreased absenteeism by 27%. We find continued improvement in girls’ attendance and reduction in dropouts two, three, and four years after the intervention. We also find evidence of improved math test scores, girls expressing higher feelings of control over their lives and, for those who received bicycles with a small cost to her family, higher levels of aspirations, self-image, and a desire to delay marriage and pregnancy. Heterogeneity analysis by distance to school shows an inverted U-shape for most of the schooling and empowerment results, suggesting greater impact for girls that live further away from school. These results suggest that empowerment outcomes worked through increased attendance in school.
    Keywords: bicycles, commute time, girls’ education, female empowerment, safety, Zambia
    JEL: H42 I21 I25 J16 O15
    Date: 2022
  4. By: Michele Battisti (Department of Law, University of Palermo, Italy; ICEA; Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis); Giuseppe Maggio (Department of Law, University of Palermo, Italy; ICEA)
    Abstract: Governments have implemented school closures and online learning as one of the main tools to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Despite the potential benefits in terms of reduction of cases, the educational costs of these policies may be dramatic. This work identifies the educational costs, expressed as decrease in test scores, for the whole universe of Italian students attending the 5th, 8th and 13th grade of the school cycle during the 2021/22 school year. The analysis relies on a difference-in-difference model in relative time, where the control group is the closest generation before the Covid-19 pandemic. The results suggest a national average loss between 1.6-4.1% and 0.5-2.4% in Mathematics and Italian test scores, respectively. After collecting the precise number of days of school closures for the universe of students in Sicily, we estimate that 30 additional days of closure decrease the test score by 1%. However, the impact is much larger for students from high schools (1.8%) compared to students from low and middle schools (0.5%). This is likely explained by the lower relevance of parental inputs and higher reliance on peers inputs, within the educational production function, for higher grades. Findings are also heterogeneous across class size and parental job conditions, pointing towards potential growing inequalities driven by the lack of in front teaching.
    Keywords: COVID-19, educational skills, difference-in-difference
    JEL: I18 I28 C23
    Date: 2022–08
  5. By: Bratti, Massimiliano (University of Milan); Lippo, Enrico (University of Milan)
    Abstract: The gendered impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been observed in many domains, such as labor market outcomes and mental health. One sector that was particularly disrupted by the pandemic was education, owing to the need to close educational institutions and move all learning activities online. In this paper, we investigate the gender gap in university student performance, focusing on a large public university located in one of the European regions most affected by the first pandemic wave (Lombardy, in Northern Italy). Despite concerns that the pandemic might have had a heavier toll on the educational performance of female students, our empirical analysis shows that the gender gap in student progression (number of credits earned) was not affected by the pandemic and that in some college majors (social sciences and humanities) women even improved their GPA relative to men.
    Keywords: COVID-19, university, student performance, gender gap
    JEL: I21 I23
    Date: 2022–07

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