nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2022‒09‒26
eight papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Losing Prospective Entitlement to Unemployment Benefits. Impact on Educational Attainment By Cockx, Bart; Declercq, Koen; Dejemeppe, Muriel
  2. Patterns, Determinants, and Consequences of Ability Tracking: Evidence from Texas Public Schools By Kate Antonovics; Sandra E. Black; Julie Berry Cullen; Akiva Yonah Meiselman
  3. Will the last be the first? School closures and educational outcomes By Michele Battisti; Giuseppe Maggio
  4. What Makes a Program Good? Evidence from Short-Cycle Higher Education Programs in Five Developing Countries By Lelys I. Dinarte Diaz; Maria Marta Ferreyra; Sergio S. Urzúa; Marina Bassi
  5. Occupational sorting on genes By Thomas Buser; Rafael Ahlskog; Magnus Johannesson; Sven Oskarsson
  6. Using Online Vacancy and Job Applicants' Data to Study Skills Dynamics By Bennett, Fidel; Escudero, Veronica; Liepmann, Hannah; Podjanin, Ana
  7. Intergenerational Transmission of Family Influence By Eshaghnia, Sadegh S. M.; Heckman, James J.; Landerso, Rasmus; Qureshi, Rafeh
  8. Investing in Infants: The Lasting Effects of Cash Transfers to New Families By Andrew C. Barr; Jonathan Eggleston; Alexander A. Smith

  1. By: Cockx, Bart; Declercq, Koen; Dejemeppe, Muriel
    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
  2. By: Kate Antonovics; Sandra E. Black; Julie Berry Cullen; Akiva Yonah Meiselman
    Abstract: Schools often track students to classes based on ability. Proponents of tracking argue it is a low-cost tool to improve learning since instruction is more effective when students are more homogeneous, while opponents argue it exacerbates initial differences in opportunities without strong evidence of efficacy. In fact, little is known about the pervasiveness or determinants of ability tracking in the US. To fill this gap, we use detailed administrative data from Texas to estimate the extent of tracking within schools for grades 4 through 8 over the years 2011-2019. We find substantial tracking; tracking within schools overwhelms any sorting by ability that takes place across schools. The most important determinant of tracking is heterogeneity in student ability, and schools operationalize tracking through the classification of students into categories such as gifted and disabled and curricular differentiation. When we examine how tracking changes in response to educational policies, we see that schools decrease tracking in response to accountability pressures. Finally, when we explore how exposure to tracking correlates with student mobility in the achievement distribution, we find positive effects on high-achieving students with no negative effects on low-achieving students, suggesting that tracking may increase inequality by raising the ceiling.
    JEL: H75 I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2022–08
  3. By: Michele Battisti; Giuseppe Maggio
    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.
    Date: 2022–08
  4. By: Lelys I. Dinarte Diaz; Maria Marta Ferreyra; Sergio S. Urzúa; Marina Bassi
    Abstract: Short-cycle higher education programs (SCPs) can play a central role in skill development and higher education expansion, yet their quality varies greatly within and among countries. In this paper we explore the relationship between programs’ practices and inputs (quality determinants) and student academic and labor market outcomes. We design and conduct a novel survey to collect program-level information on quality determinants and average outcomes for Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Peru. Categories of quality determinants include training and curriculum, infrastructure, faculty, link with productive sector, costs and funding, and other practices on student admission and institutional governance. We also collect administrative, student-level data on higher education and formal employment for SCP students in Brazil and Ecuador and match it to survey data. Using machine learning methods, we select the quality determinants that predict outcomes at the program and student levels. Estimates indicate that some quality determinants may favor academic and labor market outcomes while others may hinder them. Two practices predict improvements in all labor market outcomes in Brazil and Ecuador—teaching numerical competencies and providing job market information—and one practice—teaching numerical competencies—additionally predicts improvements in labor market outcomes for all survey countries. Since quality determinants account for 20-40 percent of the explained variation in student-level outcomes, estimates indicate a role for quality determinants to shrink the quality gap among programs. These findings have implications for the design and replication of high-quality SCPs, their regulation, and the development of information systems.
    JEL: I2 J24
    Date: 2022–08
  5. By: Thomas Buser (University of Amsterdam); Rafael Ahlskog (Uppsala University); Magnus Johannesson (tockholm School of Economics); Sven Oskarsson (Uppsala University)
    Abstract: We use a novel approach to explore how people sort into different careers based on their personality skills. We link genetic data from individuals in the Swedish Twin Registry to government register data, making use of new polygenic indices that capture the genetic predispositions of individuals towards a range of relevant cognitive skills, personality traits, and economic preferences. We first present a detailed mapping of these genetic tendencies by occupation and study major. We show that – conditional on their socio-economic background – people who sort into different study majors and occupations differ significantly in their genetic predispositions. We then take advantage of random genetic variation between siblings to show that this sorting is at least partially due to a causal effect of genetic tendencies on career choices. Our results shed new light on the determinants of some of the most impactful decisions people must make in their lives.
    Keywords: personality traits, cognitive skills, behavioral genetics, labor markets, education
    JEL: D91 J24
    Date: 2022–09–07
  6. By: Bennett, Fidel; Escudero, Veronica (ILO International Labour Organization); Liepmann, Hannah (ILO International Labour Organization); Podjanin, Ana (ILO International Labour Organization)
    Abstract: We assess whether online data on vacancies and applications to a job board are a suitable source for studying skills dynamics outside of Europe and the United States, where a rich literature has examined skills dynamics using online vacancy data. Yet, the knowledge on skills dynamics is scarce for other countries, irrespective of their level of development. We first propose a taxonomy that systematically aggregates three broad categories of skills – cognitive, socioemotional and manual – and fourteen commonly observed and recognizable skills sub-categories, which we define based on unique skills identified through keywords and expressions. Our aim is to develop a taxonomy that is comprehensive but succinct, suitable for the labour market realities of developing and emerging economies and adapted to online vacancies and applicants' data. Using machine-learning techniques, we then develop a methodology that allows implementing the skills taxonomy in online vacancy and applicants' data, thus capturing both the supply and the demand side. Implementing the methodology with Uruguayan data from the job board BuscoJobs, we assign skills to 64 per cent of applicants' employment spells and 94 per cent of vacancies. We consider this a successful implementation since the exploited text information often does not follow a standardized format. The advantage of our approach is its reliance on data that is currently available in many countries across the world, thereby allowing for country-specific analysis that does not need to assume that occupational skills bundles are the same across countries. To the best of our knowledge, we are the first to explore this approach in the context of emerging economies.
    Keywords: online data, job board, skills dynamics, skills taxonomy, natural language processing
    JEL: C81 J24 O33 O54
    Date: 2022–08
  7. By: Eshaghnia, Sadegh S. M. (University of Chicago); Heckman, James J. (University of Chicago); Landerso, Rasmus (Rockwool Foundation Research Unit); Qureshi, Rafeh (University of Chicago)
    Abstract: This paper studies intergenerational mobility—the transmission of family influence. We develop and estimate measures of lifetime resources (income and wealth) motivated by economic theory that account for generational differences in life-cycle trajectories, uncertainty, and credit constraints. These measures of lifetime resources allow us to estimate the transmission of welfare and lifetime resources at different stages of the life cycle. We compare these measures with traditional ones such as wage income and disposable income measured over narrow windows of age that are used to proxy lifetime wealth. The performance of proxy measures is poor. Parents' expected lifetime resources are stronger predictors of many important child outcomes (including children's own expected lifetime resources and education) than the income measures traditionally used in the literature on social mobility. Changes in patterns of educational attainment across generations explain most of the intergenerational change in life-cycle dynamics. While relative mobility is overstated by the traditional income measures, absolute upward mobility is understated. Recent generations have higher welfare and are better off compared to their parents.
    Keywords: intergenerational mobility, life-cycle measures of resources, education
    JEL: I24 D31 I30
    Date: 2022–08
  8. By: Andrew C. Barr; Jonathan Eggleston; Alexander A. Smith
    Abstract: We provide new evidence that cash transfers following the birth of a first child can have large and long-lasting effects on that child’s outcomes. We take advantage of the January 1 birthdate cutoff for U.S. child-related tax benefits, which results in families of otherwise similar children receiving substantially different refunds during the first year of life. For the average low-income single-child family in our sample this difference amounts to roughly $1,300, or 10 percent of income. Using the universe of administrative federal tax data in selected years, we show that this transfer in infancy increases young adult earnings by at least 1 to 2 percent, with larger effects for males. These effects show up at earlier ages in terms of improved math and reading test scores and a higher likelihood of high school graduation. The observed effects on shorter-run parental outcomes suggest that additional liquidity during the critical window following the birth of a first child leads to persistent increases in family income that likely contribute to the downstream effects on children’s outcomes. The longer-term effects on child earnings alone are large enough that the transfer pays for itself through subsequent increases in federal income tax revenue.
    JEL: H24 H31 I2 I21 I3 I38 J13 J24 J62
    Date: 2022–08

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