nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2009‒02‒14
four papers chosen by
Jonas Holmström
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. Peer Effects in Science - Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany By Fabian Waldinger
  2. A Professor Like Me: Influence of Professor Gender on University Achievement By Hoffman, Florian; Oreopoulos, Philip
  3. The new Italian graduation system and the new institutions for raising university funds in Italy By Meacci, Ferdinando
  4. The Effect of Student Loan Limits on University Enrolments By Neill, Christine

  1. By: Fabian Waldinger
    Abstract: This paper analyzes peer effects among university scientists. Specifically, it investigates whether thenumber of peers and their average quality affects the productivity of researchers in physics, chemistry,and mathematics. The usual endogeneity problems related to estimating peer effects are addressed byusing the dismissal of scientists by the Nazi government as a source of exogenous variation in the peergroup of scientists staying in Germany. Using a newly constructed panel dataset covering the universeof physicists, chemists, and mathematicians at all German universities from 1925 until 1938 Iinvestigate peer effects at the local level and among co-authors. There is no evidence for localizedpeer effects, as neither department level (e.g. the physics department) nor specialization level (e.g. alltheoretical physicists in the department) peers affect a researcher's productivity. Among co-authors,however, there is strong and significant evidence that peer quality affects a researcher's productivity.Loosing a co-author of average quality reduces the productivity of an average scientist by about 13percent in physics and 16.5 percent in chemistry.
    Keywords: peer effects, Nazi Germany, science, university, higher education, spillovers, co-authors
    JEL: I20 I21 I23 I28 J24 L31 L38 N34 N44 O31 O38
    Date: 2009–02
  2. By: Hoffman, Florian; Oreopoulos, Philip
    Abstract: Many wonder whether teacher gender plays an important role in higher education by influencing student achievement and subject interest. The data used in this paper helps identify average effects from male and female university students assigned to male or female teachers. In contrast to previous work at the primary and secondary school level, our focus on large first-year undergraduate classes isolates gender interaction effects due to students reacting to instructors rather than instructors reacting to students. In addition, by focussing on university students, we examine the extent to which gender interactions may exist at later ages. We find that assignment to a same-sex instructor boosts relative grade performance and the likelihood of completing a course, but the magnitudes of these effects are small. A same-sex instructor increases average grade performance by at most 5 percent of its standard deviation and decreases the likelihood of dropping a course by 1.2 percentage points. The effects are similar when conditioning on initial ability (high school achievement), and ethnic background (mother tongue not English), but smaller when conditioning on mathematics and science courses. The effects of same-sex instructors on upper-year course selection are insignificant.
    Keywords: Teacher Quality, Higher Education, Gender Role Model Effects
    JEL: I2 H4
    Date: 2009–02–02
  3. By: Meacci, Ferdinando
    Abstract: The Italian university system has undergone two reforms in recent years. One has been introduced by the Ministerial Decrees 3 November 1999, n. 509 and 22 October 2004 n. 207. The other has been introduced by the law 23 December 2000 n. 388 art. 59, c.3. and by the Presidential Decree 24 May 2001, n. 254. The former compels Italian universities, whether public (the majority) or private (a tiny minority) to change their graduation system and courses. The latter enables State universities to establish university foundations (fondazioni universitarie) with the purpose to support their teaching and research activities and, in particular, to extend the sources of their financing to subjects other than the State. The aim of this paper is to present the main features of these reforms. It will show that while the new graduation system conforms to the guidelines of the overarching Bologna Process, which encompasses 45 countries to date, the new university foundations were devised outside of this Process and in view of the obstacles faced by Italian State universities in running their activities and in raising additional funds for their further development especially in the direction of research and technology transfer.
    Keywords: Italian university system; university funding; university foundations
    JEL: A20 D02 H52 I22
    Date: 2008–02–10
  4. By: Neill, Christine
    Abstract: Student loan programs are an important feature of post-secondary education systems around the world. However, there is little direct evidence on whether these programs are effective in increasing enrolments of credit constrained students. Unlike other countries, Canada has a system of student loans and grants that is based on combined provincial/federal jurisdiction, leading to policy differences over time between provinces. I exploit these differences to evaluate the effects of changes in maximum student loan limits on enrolments of young people. I find that although there is evidence that increasing nonrepayable assistance leads to increases in enrolments, loans appear to increase only the probability of youth living away from their parents’ house while studying.
    Keywords: Post-Secondary Education, Student Loans, Credit Constraints
    JEL: I2 I28
    Date: 2009–02–02

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