nep-ure New Economics Papers
on Urban and Real Estate Economics
Issue of 2005‒04‒09
five papers chosen by
Steve Ross
University of Connecticut

  1. Teacher Shocks and Student Learning: Evidence from Zambia By Jishnu Das; Stefan Dercon; James Habyarimana; Pramila Krishnan
  2. Peer effects in Austrian schools By Nicole Schneeweis; Rudolf Winter-Ebmer
  3. Choosing Electoral Rules: Theory and Evidence from US Cities By Philippe Aghion; Alberto Alesina; Francesco Trebbi
  4. The Thick Market Effect on Local Unemployment Rate Fluctuations By Li Gan; Qinghua Zhang
  5. Charter School Quality and Parental Decision Making With School Choice By Eric A. Hanushek; John F. Kain; Steven G. Rivkin; Gregory F. Branch

  1. By: Jishnu Das; Stefan Dercon; James Habyarimana; Pramila Krishnan
    Abstract: Following a tradition that relates household-level shocks to educational attainment, we examine the impact of teacher-level shocks on student learning. As a plausible measure for these shocks, we use teacher absenteeism during a 30-day recall period. A 5-percent increase in teacher absence rate reduced learning by 4 to 8 percent of average gains over the year, for both Mathematics and English. The estimated impacts are substantial and, in addition to the losses due to time away from class, likely reflect lower teaching quality when in class and less lesson-preparation when at home. Health problems-primarily their own illness and the illnesses of family members-account for more than 60 percent of teacher absenteeism. This suggests both that households are unable to substitute adequately for school-level teaching inputs and that, to support human capital formation, insurance at the school-level may be a policy priority that is worth exploring further.
    Date: 2004–07
  2. By: Nicole Schneeweis (Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria); Rudolf Winter-Ebmer (Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria)
    Date: 2005–03
  3. By: Philippe Aghion; Alberto Alesina; Francesco Trebbi
    Abstract: This paper studies the choice of electoral rules, in particular, the question of minority representation. Majorities tend to disenfranchise minorities through strategic manipulation of electoral rules. With the aim of explaining changes in electoral rules adopted by US cities (particularly in the South), we show why majorities tend to adopt "winner-take-all" city-wide rules (at-large elections) in response to an increase in the size of the minority when the minority they are facing is relatively small. In this case, for the majority it is more effective to leverage on its sheer size instead of risking to concede representation to voters from minority-elected districts. However, as the minority becomes larger (closer to a fifty-fifty split), the possibility of losing the whole city induces the majority to prefer minority votes to be confined in minority-packed districts. Single-member district rules serve this purpose. We show empirical results consistent with these implications of the model.
    Date: 2005–04
  4. By: Li Gan; Qinghua Zhang
    Abstract: This paper studies how the thick market effect influences local unemployment rate fluctuations. The paper presents a model to demonstrate that the average matching quality improves as the number of workers and firms increases. Unemployed workers accumulate in a city until the local labor market reaches a critical minimum size, which leads to cyclical fluctuations in the local unemployment rates. Since larger cities attain the critical market size more frequently, they have shorter unemployment cycles, lower peak unemployment rates, and lower mean unemployment rates. Our empirical tests are consisten with the predictions of the model. In particular, we find that an increase of two standard deviations in city size shortens the unemployment cycles by about 0.72 months, lowers the peak unemployment rates by 0.33 percentage points, and lowers the mean unemployment rates by 0.16 percentage points.
    JEL: J64 R23
    Date: 2005–04
  5. By: Eric A. Hanushek; John F. Kain; Steven G. Rivkin; Gregory F. Branch
    Abstract: Charter schools have become a very popular instrument for reforming public schools, because they expand choices, facilitate local innovation, and provide incentives for the regular public schools while remaining under public control. Despite their conceptual appeal, evaluating their performance has been hindered by the selective nature of their student populations. This paper investigates the quality of charter schools in Texas in terms of mathematics and reading achievement and finds that, after an initial start-up period, average school quality in the charter sector is not significantly different from that in regular public schools. Perhaps most important, the parental decision to exit a charter school is much more sensitive to education quality than the decision to exit a regular public school, consistent with the notion that the introduction of charter schools substantially reduces the transactions costs of switching schools. Low income charter school families are, however, less sensitive to school quality than higher income families.
    JEL: I2 H4 D1
    Date: 2005–04

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