nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2023‒10‒16
seven papers chosen by
Nádia Simões, Instituto Universitário de Lisboa 

  1. Live Tutoring Calls Did Not Improve Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Sierra Leone By Lee Crawfurd; David K. Evans; Susannah Hares; Justin Sandefur
  2. Educational Reforms and Their Positive Externalities on the Labor Market By Elsenberger, Fabio; Kendzia, Michael Jan
  3. Trade-Offs in Choosing a College Major By Michael Kaganovich
  4. Are Friends of Schools the Enemies of Equity? The Interplay of Public School Funding Policies and Private External Fundraising By Lisa Barrow; Sarah Komisarow; Lauren Sartain
  5. Contracting Out Schools at Scale: Evidence from Pakistan By Lee Crawfurd; Abdullah Alam
  6. Can Patience Account for Subnational Differences in Student Achievement? Regional Analysis with Facebook Interests By Eric A. Hanushek; Lavinia Kinne; Sancassani Pietro; Ludger Woessmann
  7. The Effect of Government Cuts of Doctoral Scholarships on Science By Giulia Rossello

  1. By: Lee Crawfurd (Center for Global Development); David K. Evans (Center for Global Development); Susannah Hares (Center for Global Development); Justin Sandefur (Center for Global Development)
    Abstract: Education systems regularly face unexpected school closures, whether due to disease outbreaks, natural disasters, or other adverse shocks. In low-income countries where internet access is scarce, distance learning—the most common educational solution—is often passive, via TV or radio, with little opportunity for teacher-student interaction. In this paper we evaluate the effectiveness of live tutoring calls from teachers, designed to supplement radio instruction during the 2020 school closures prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We do this with a randomised controlled trial with 4, 399 primary school students in Sierra Leone. Tutoring calls led to some limited increase in educational activity, but had no effect on mathematics or language test scores, whether for girls or boys, and whether provided by public or private school teachers. Even having received tutoring calls, one in three children reported not listening to educational radio at all, so limited take-up may partly explain our results.
    Keywords: Education, COVID, distance learning, teachers
    JEL: I10 I20 I25 O15
    Date: 2021–09–01
  2. By: Elsenberger, Fabio (Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)); Kendzia, Michael Jan (Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW))
    Abstract: Educational reforms aim to improve education quality and accessibility, creating positive externalities like individual growth and societal benefits. Although the global educational attainment has progressed, disparities still exist. This study applies the four-cell matrix developed by Münich and Psacharopoulos (2018) as analytical framework to classify the benefits of schooling into four different quadrants. It distinguishes between private and social benefits on the x-axis and market and non-market benefits on the y-axis. The survey finds that educational reforms and policies significantly impact society's development and progress, improving economic growth, social mobility, and health outcomes. By and large, the investigated reforms vary by country and education level, with some focusing on primary education and access to education while others focus more on tertiary education. The findings reveal that large differences exist in how far certain reforms were already implemented. Developing nations mainly experience non-market benefits like improved health and disease reduction, while developed countries show positive externalities in market and non-market areas. Reforms targeting tertiary education often translate into more positive externalities in the two private quadrants.
    Keywords: educational reforms, market benefits, non-market benefits, private benefits, social benefits
    JEL: I0 J6 O1 N3
    Date: 2023–09
  3. By: Michael Kaganovich
    Abstract: Recent empirical analyses reveal substantial differences in the choices of college majors between demographic and socio-economic groups that are further amplified upon students’ adjustment of their educational choices in the course of studies. The best documented and salient are the differences between genders, whereby women tend to be significantly underrepresented in some quantitatively oriented academic fields such as STEM, Business, and Economics, which also happen to be associated with relatively more lucrative careers, and overrepresented in others, such as Humanities and Education. Among potential explanations for this gender imbalance, some scholars noted that those more lucrative fields tend to have a more competitive environment and assign, on average, lower grades and conjectured that female students exhibit stronger aversion to low grades, hence their relative aversion to low-grading disciplines. The empirical literature also brings up a competing reasoning that gender biases in the choices of disciplines are directly driven by differences in preferences toward fields and pecuniary as well as non-pecuniary aspects of careers associated with them. This paper develops a theoretical model, which proposes a foundation for the latter explanation as a predominant one and reconciling it with the empirical evidence of gender differences in responsiveness to grades mentioned above. The paper argues that a student’s responsiveness to grades, in terms of the initial choice of and persistence in majors, is field-specific and is the stronger, the weaker is the student’s preferential attachment to the field. A key implication is that categories of students who attach high importance to pecuniary benefits of post-college careers, will be more tolerant toward inferior grades they may receive in the disciplines which promise such lucrative careers. It further explains why such students also tend to exhibit higher dropout rates from college.
    Keywords: higher education, college major, switching majors, dropout, gender gap
    JEL: I23 I24 J24 D21
    Date: 2023
  4. By: Lisa Barrow; Sarah Komisarow; Lauren Sartain
    Abstract: School districts across the U.S. have adopted funding policies designed to distribute resources more equitably across schools. However, schools are also increasing external fundraising efforts to supplement district budget allocations. We document the interaction between funding policies and fundraising efforts in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). We find that adoption of a weighted-student funding policy successfully reallocated more dollars to schools with high shares of students eligible for free/reduced-price (FRL) lunch, creating a policy-induced per-pupil expenditure gap. Further, almost all schools raised external funds over the study period with most dollars raised concentrated in schools serving relatively affluent populations. We estimate that external fundraising offset the policy-induced per-pupil expenditure gap between schools enrolling the lowest and highest shares of FRL-eligible students by 26-39 percent. Other districts have attempted to reallocate fundraised dollars to all schools; such a policy in CPS would have little impact on most schools’ budgets.
    Keywords: Education Finance; public schools; school funding; nonprofit; fundraising; Equity
    JEL: I22 I28 H75
    Date: 2023–08
  5. By: Lee Crawfurd (Center for Global Development); Abdullah Alam (Institute for Social and Policy Sciences, Islamabad, Pakistan)
    Abstract: Can governments contract out school management at scale? In 2016 the Government of Punjab transferred management of over 4, 000 failing primary schools to private operators. Schools remained free to students. Private operators received a government subsidy per enrolled student of less than half per-student spending in government schools. This paper evaluates the effects on performance of converted schools. Comparing early converters to later converters, we estimate that enrolment in treated schools increased by over 60 percent, and test scores declined sharply.
    Keywords: Charter schools, difference-in-difference, Pakistan, PPPs, public-private partnerships
    JEL: I25 O15
    Date: 2022–09–06
  6. By: Eric A. Hanushek (Hoover Institution, Stanford University); Lavinia Kinne (ifo Institute); Sancassani Pietro (ifo Institute); Ludger Woessmann (LMU Munich)
    Abstract: Decisions to invest in human capital depend on people’s time preferences. We show that differences in patience are closely related to substantial subnational differences in educational achievement, leading to new perspectives on longstanding within-country disparities. We use social-media data – Facebook interests – to construct novel regional measures of patience within Italy and the United States. Patience is strongly positively associated with student achievement in both countries, accounting for two-thirds of the achievement variation across Italian regions and one-third across U.S. states. Results also hold for six other countries with more limited regional achievement data.
    Keywords: patience; student achievement; regions; social media;
    JEL: I21 Z10
    Date: 2023–09–18
  7. By: Giulia Rossello
    Abstract: I provide estimates of the impact of government cuts on PhD scholarships in Science. I leverage a unique quasi-natural experiment, the staggered cuts made by the Hungarian Government between 2010 and 2021 to expand Orban's political influence over the university system. The political aim of the cut ensures that it is exogenous to the economic cycle and to the scientific activity of universities. My analysis couples the complete enrolment records of doctoral students in the country around the years of scholarship cuts with a generalized difference-in-differences approach. I find that while government cuts of PhD scholarships have an ambiguous effect on students' attainments, the policy has a clear negative effect on Science. That is, the severe reduction of scholarships increases the chance of completing the PhD by 1 pp, and the effect is stronger for female students. However, this positive effect is counterbalanced by a reduction of a similar amount of entry rates for females and non-traditional students. This suggests that besides training might improve, or the system might become more efficient, this is at the expense of social inclusion. Additionally, the effects of cuts on scientific production are negative both in terms of quantity and quality. The productivity of doctoral students drops by 2 pp while their scientific quality decreases between 0.2 pp and 1 pp. My results suggest that the reduction of doctoral scholarships might produce efficiency in terms of student attainment but at the expense of social inclusion, scientific production, and quality.
    Keywords: Government Appropriation; Higher Education; Doctoral Scholarships; Event Study; Difference in Differences.
    Date: 2023–09–26

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