Long Term Economic Growth Depends on Human Capital (News and Research 256)

How can Uzbekistan achieve prosperity? Francis Fukuyama: “the long-term economic growth in a society depends on developing the human capital of the population. Which is basically education and the acquisition of skills”

Why East Asian students perform better in mathematics than their peers: An investigation using a machine learning approach | The authors use a machine learning approach to identify the school-, student-, and country-related factors that predict East Asian students’ higher PISA mathematics scores compared to their international peers. They identify student- and school-related factors, such as metacognition–assess credibility, mathematics learning time, early childhood education and care, grade repetition, school type and size, class size, and student behavior hindering learning, as important predictors of the higher average mathematics scores of East Asian students. Moreover, country-level factors, such as the proportion of youth not in education, training, or employment and the number of R&D researchers, are also found to have high predicting power.

The Making of Social Democracy: The Economic and Electoral Consequences of Norway’s 1936 Folk School Reform | Upon assuming power for the first time in 1935, the Norwegian Labour Party delivered on its promise of a major schooling reform. The reform raised minimum instruction time in less developed rural areas and boosted the resources available to rural schools, reducing class size and increasing teacher salaries. The authors document that cohorts more intensively affected by the reform significantly increased their education and experienced higher labor income. The main result is that the schooling reform also substantially increased support for the Norwegian Labour Party in subsequent elections. This additional support persisted for several decades and was pivotal in maintaining support for the social democratic coalition in Norway. These results are not driven by the direct impact of education and are not explained by higher turnout, or greater attention or resources from the Labour Party targeted towards the municipalities most affected by the reform. Rather, the evidence suggests that cohorts that benefited from the schooling reform, and their parents, rewarded the party for delivering a major reform that was beneficial to them.

Does vocational education pay better, or worse, than academic education? | In this paper, the authors use the Chinese General Social Survey data to analyze the returns to upper secondary vocational education in China. To address possible endogeneity of vocational training due to omitted heterogeneity, they construct a novel instrumental variable using the proportion of tertiary education graduates relative to the entire population by year. The main finding is that, although returns to vocational upper secondary education appear higher than returns to academic upper secondary education according to the Mincerian equation, the results from the instrumental variable method tell the opposite story: vocational upper secondary graduates face a wage penalty compared to academic upper secondary graduates. The findings highlight the importance of properly accounting for endogeneity when estimating the returns to vocational education.

Scores, Camera, Action: Social Accountability and Teacher Incentives in Remote Areas | Remote schools in developing countries are costly to supervise, resulting in low teacher accountability and poor education outcomes. This paper reports the results of a randomized evaluation of three treatments that introduced teacher incentives based on community monitoring of teacher effort against locally agreed standards. The Social Accountability Mechanism (SAM) treatment facilitated a joint commitment between schools and community members to improve learning. Teacher performance was rated against it, discussed in monthly public meetings and passed on to authorities. The second and third treatments combined SAM with a performance pay mechanism that would penalize eligible teachers’ remote area allowance for poor performance. In the SAM+Camera (SAM+Cam) treatment, the cut was based on absence as recorded by a tamper-proof camera; while in the SAM+Score treatment, it was based on the overall rating. After one year, the findings indicate improvements in learning outcomes across all treatments; however, the strongest impact of 0.20 standard deviation is observed for SAM+Cam. The evaluation also finds a small positive impact on the effort of affected teachers for SAM+Cam and SAM, and significant positive improvements on parental educational investments in all treatments. For SAM and SAM+Cam, additional data were collected in the second year (one year after project facilitators left). The findings show that SAM+Cam’s impacts on learning outcomes and parental investments—but not teacher effort —persisted into the second year.

Learning Recovery after COVID-19 In Europe and Central Asia: Policy and Practice

The COVID-19 Cost of School Closures in Earnings and Income across the World

HLO (Harmonized Learning Outcomes) | Angrist, N., S. Djankov, P.K. Goldberg and H.A. Patrinos. 2021. Measuring Human Capital using Global Learning DataNature 592: 403-408 | Summary in VoxEU | Data

Learning Loss During COVID-19: An Early Systematic Review