News and Research 25

Rates of Return to Schooling in Thailand Using 2007–2010 data from Thailand’s National Labor Force Survey, this paper examines the rates of return to schooling. The Mincer-type rate of return to investment in schooling was estimated. The rates of return to schooling for work experience are significantly positive, but at a decreasing rate. Region of residence and variation in gross provincial product per capita are significant factors in determining the private rate of return. The rates of return to schooling by type of industry reveal higher earnings in mining, utilities, construction, manufacturing, and services than in agriculture. The private and social returns on vocational secondary education attainment are greater than on general secondary education. Finally, the private returns on university attainment for women exceed men by about 1.5 percentage points…

Social reproduction in Vietnam: Educational attainment, employment, and skills usage  Education can be seen as a social structure that reproduces existing levels of social, economic, and cultural distributions. Using Vietnam as a case study, this paper seeks to examine how these theories hold up in a socio-political and socio-economic context that has been less examined, specifically in one of the few remaining single-party socialist countries that advocates Communism. The findings suggest prior levels of social stratification are predictive of educational attainment, and educational attainment is predictive of employment. Higher educational attainment is also predictive of having occupations in economic sectors with less repetitive work and more autonomy…

Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Political Impacts of Education in Vietnam  In this study, I estimate the causal effects of education on political outcomes in Vietnam using data from Vietnam’s World Values Survey. To address the potential endogeneity problem of education, I employ the 1991 compulsory schooling reform in Vietnam to instrument for exogenous changes in schooling years with a regression discontinuity design. I find that in general education does cause favorable impacts on political outcomes in Vietnam using the whole sample. In particular, one more year of schooling results in increases in the probabilities of political concern and political participation by about 6–12% points and 6–8% points, respectively. However, I strikingly find that for those whose at least lower secondary degree, more schooling years they achieve less political concern they have…

The long-run effects of treated water on education: The rural drinking water program in China  Since little is known about the long-run effect of treated water, we examine the educational benefit to rural youth in China from a major water treatment program started in the 1980s. By employing a data set covering two decades and encompassing more than 4700 individuals between ages 18 and 25, we find that, on average, the program increased the completed grades of education of rural youth by 1.1 years. Moreover, the effect was highly heterogeneous across gender and age of exposure. Rural girls benefited from water treatment more than rural boys such that the water treatment program completely eliminated the gender gap in education in treated villages. Young rural people with access to treated water in early childhood experienced significantly higher gains in schooling attainment (i.e., by more than a year) than those that gained access at later stages of life. Our analysis suggests that this program was cost-effective…

Leadership and teacher learning in urban and rural schools in China: Meeting the dual challenges of equity and effectiveness  Despite a rapid rise in national income levels, the distribution of wealth remains unevenly distributed between residents of rural and urban areas both in mainland China and other developing nations. These inequities carry over to the education system where researchers have documented differences not only in resource allocation but also in the academic performance of students in urban and rural schools. Most research into the causes of China’s urban-rural achievement gap has focused on fiscal resources. In contrast, the current study examined differences in school organization processes associated with learning-centered leadership and teacher learning. These foci were selected due to their documented importance in supporting sustainable school improvement. We employed multi-group confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling to analyze survey data collected from 492 urban teachers and 423 rural teachers in 31 Chinese schools located in three different provinces. The results affirmed a similar model of leadership and teacher learning in urban and rural schools. Specifically, school leadership exerted significant direct and indirect effects on teacher learning. It was, however, notable that the strength of all variable measures were significantly higher in the urban schools. The findings imply a potential benefit to be gained from providing training focused on ‘learning-centered leadership for principals and middle level leaders in rural schools, as well as expanding access to quality professional development opportunities for rural teachers…

Economic returns to speaking ‘standard Mandarin’ among migrants in China’s urban labour market  This article uses data from the China Urban Labour Survey administered across 12 cities in 2005 to estimate the economic returns to speaking standard Mandarin among internal migrants in China’s urban labour market. The article builds on studies that estimate the economic returns to international immigrants of being fluent in the major language of the destination country and studies that estimate the economic returns to proficiency in the national language among groups of people who speak a minority language. Importantly, we control for potential endogeneity bias in the estimates of the effect of language fluency on earnings. We find that for migrants as a whole, there are considerable economic returns to speaking standard Mandarin. We also find gender differences. While the coefficient on fluency in standard Mandarin is statistically significant and large for females, the coefficient on fluency is statistically insignificant for males. One possible explanation for this finding is that female migrant workers are engaged more in occupations which have greater contact with urban locals and hence the return to investment in language skills is higher…

Popularity of the decentralization reform and its effects on the quality of education  Policymakers have increasingly advocated decentralization as a way of enhancing educational quality, although its potential in this area is still subject to debate. This article traces the impetus and popularity of the reform as a policy solution over the past few decades. It argues that three trends in particular have characterized the post-2000 era: a deepening of reforms implemented earlier, an enhanced focus on school decentralization interventions, and a notable increase in schemes in the African region. Interestingly, in individual nations, donor agencies have often encouraged the reforms that make up these trends. The article then examines the empirical evidence on the relationship between decentralization and educational quality, using detailed case studies of Indonesia and Kenya. The case studies not only showcase these decentralization trends but also demonstrate that different decentralization approaches can result in dramatically different outcomes in educational quality. On this front, the article argues that design and implementation features tend to shape quality outcomes—and those features, in turn, are fundamentally shaped by economic conditions as well as by the politics of donors and local stakeholders…

Heterogeneous returns to education over the wage distribution: Who profits the most?  This study presents evidence of heterogeneous returns to education over the wage distribution. The authors use instrumental variable quantile regression and data from the Swiss Labor Force Survey to identify the causal link between education and wages at different quantiles of the conditional distribution of wages. The results provide evidence that there is no unique causal effect of schooling and that for each individual the effect may deviate from those extensively documented by ordinary least squares or two-stage least squares. In particular, while ordinary quantile regression estimates increasing returns in the quantile index, once the endogeneity of schooling is taken into account the authors instead observe higher returns at lower quantiles of the wage distribution. Interpreting the quantile index as a measure of unobserved ability, the results suggest that higher-ability individuals have higher wages, but the slope of their wage-education profile is flatter than that for lower-ability individuals…

Local control over education ‘is key’  A teaching union has warned against reducing the influence of councils over the country’s education system…

Education Is Not a Marketplace You Can Game With Vouchers  First, the system needs more subtlety, and parents need better information…

What U.S. higher education can learn from Canada: Bigger schools can be the best  The recent presidential election has spurred plenty of comparisons of how U.S. public policy stacks up against our neighbors to the north, from health care to gun control. Perhaps we should add higher education to that list. Canada’s three most-prominent universities — the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia — enroll a total of 110,000 undergraduates. That’s more students than the top 17 U.S. universities in the U.S. News & World Report rankings combined…

Teacher Classroom Observations Are a Waste of Money, Economist Argues  Teacher observations cost the American education system nearly $1.5 billion a year, but the feedback teachers are receiving from them isn’t improving student achievement, argues Mark Dynarski, an economist who has spent decades trying to get education policymakers to use data to inform policy…

The impact of education on political ideology: Evidence from European compulsory education reforms  Previous research documents a correlation between education and political ideology, usually indicating a positive relationship between education and left-wing political views. In this paper, I examine to what extent this association is causal. I merge political ideology data from 25 waves of Eurobarometer surveys with information on 18 educational reforms in 11 European countries. I then instrument for educational attainment with a regression discontinuity design that estimates the increase in education due to compulsory educational reforms. Notably, it appears that omitted variables bias is important here. I find a significant causal effect of education moving individuals to the right when properly addressing the endogeneity whereas there is a significant association between education and left-wing political ideology when treating education as exogenous. I find that on average, among the individuals compelled into additional education from these specific reforms, an additional year of education moves individuals to the right of the political continuum by about 5–6%. However, I also find no evidence of a causal effect on political ideology for a subgroup of countries…

Child Development and Parental Investment: Introduction  A growing body of research in economics, epidemiology and developmental psychology establishes the importance of attributes shaped in childhood in determining adult outcomes. At least 50% of the variability of lifetime earnings across persons results from attributes of persons determined by age 18. Childhood is the province of the family and the environments in which families are situated. Any investigation of how conditions in childhood affect life outcomes is a study of family influence and the influence of family environments…

The Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program  This paper estimates the long-term benefits from an influential early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. The program was evaluated by random assignment and followed participants through their mid-30s. It has substantial beneficial impacts on health, children’s future labor incomes, crime, education, and mothers’ labor incomes, with greater monetized benefits for males. Lifetime returns are estimated by pooling multiple data sets using testable economic models. The overall rate of return is 13.7% per annum, and the benefit/cost ratio is 7.3. These estimates are robust to numerous sensitivity analyses…

Making College Earnings Data Work for Students  State and federal policymakers have embraced the idea that prospective college students need better information on earnings outcomes for individual colleges and programs of study. One of the Obama administration’s signature higher education policy efforts was the new College Scorecard, which provides information on median income after attending a given college. [i] And several states have developed data systems that allow students to obtain this information for individual programs, such as the average earnings of business majors at a particular college…

Investing in schools: capital spending, facility conditions, and student achievement Public investments in repairs, modernization, and construction of schools cost billions. However, little is known about the nature of school facility investments, whether it actually changes the physical condition of public schools, and the subsequent causal impacts on student achievement. We study the achievement effects of nearly 1400 capital campaigns initiated and financed by local school districts, comparing districts where school capital bonds were either narrowly approved or defeated by district voters. Overall, we find little evidence that these school capital campaigns improve student achievement. Event-study analysis focused on the students actually affected by large campus renovations also generates very precise zero estimates of achievement effects. Thus, U.S. school capital campaigns financed by local districts – the predominant method through which facility investments are made – may be a limited tool for realizing substantial gains in student achievement or closing achievement gaps…

Undue Process: Why Bad Teachers Rarely Get Fired  …Teachers who receive years’ worth of ineffective ratings are given multiple chances for improvement and reevaluation, and a single procedural violation by the administration starts the process over again…

Caste System  In standard economics, individuals are rational actors and economic forces undermine institutions that impose large inefficiencies. The persistence of the caste system is evidence of the need for psychologically more realistic models of decision-making in economics. The caste system divides South Asian society into hereditary groups whose lowest ranks are represented as innately polluted. After the historical encounter between colonial powers and South Asia, caste became capable of expressing and systematizing what had been diverse forms of social identity, community, and organization. This paper reviews work that estimates the economic costs of the caste system in particular environments: (1) In North India, discrimination between higher-caste landowners and lower-caste tenants in markets for groundwater for irrigation reduces the tenants‘ agricultural yields by 45 percent. (2) Making caste identity public in North Indian classrooms reduces the cognitive performance of low-caste boys by 23 percent. (3) Because of lower-caste men’s control of working-class occupations, the proportion of lower-caste children enrolled in English-language schools in Mumbai after India opened itself up to the world market grew only one-fourth as quickly for boys as for girls, restricting boys’ occupational mobility. Given the benefit of access to caste-based networks, most Indians practice caste endogamy. The caste system is a dramatic example of an institution to which it may pay each individual to conform because others conform. The caste system also illustrates the two-way influence between people and institutions emphasized in psychology: people construct institutions, and institutions shape understandings. Abolition by law of an institution may change neither understandings nor behavior…

 

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