Ukraine, Human Capital, and More (News and Research 307)

Ukraine Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment | Cost of war: Recovery and reconstruction: $9.2 billion in education, with $2.8 billion urgently needed. Includes reconstruction & restoration of teaching & learning services, catch-up programs, psychological support, and investments to increase quality.

Measuring Human Capital  | In describing the role of “fixed capital” in an economy, Adam Smith considered four categories. The first three were “machines and instruments of trade,” “profitable buildings,” and “improvements of land.” The fourth type was what economists now refer to as “human capital”.  Abraham and Mallatt review the main measure of human capital, including the Bank’s Human Capital Index.

Using the Greek Civil War to Re-estimate the Returns to Schooling | For those affected by the civil war, the returns to schooling are higher than the corresponding traditional estimate | The Greek Civil War led to a significant reduction in schooling between 1950 and 1955. The estimate of the returns to schooling in Greece in 1977, using the civil was as an instrument, is higher than the existing non-experimental returns to education estimates at the time. The IV estimate is 8.0 percent, which is 26 percent higher than the corresponding OLS estimator. However, since the instrument means less schooling, then this suggests a high cost of war.

Learning for life  | A guide for philanthropists and changemakers to bring quality education to all | Invest in online, one-on-one, personalized, and “high-dosage tutoring” (one-on-one tutoring or tutoring in very small groups).

Do private schools increase academic achievement? Evidence from France | This article investigates the effect of private lower secondary schools on student achievement in France. I use propensity score matching on a large French database to estimate the effect of enrollment in a private school on academic achievement as measured by ninth-grade test scores in three school subjects. I find that private school attendance has a large and significant effect on educational success. Boys’ (girls’) scores in private school were between 0.193 (0.138) and 0.222 (0.198) standard deviations higher on standardized tests in ninth grade. A series of checks confirm the robustness of these results.

The Impact of Public-Private (PPPs) in Infrastructure, Health and Education | Journal Of Economic Literature (Forthcoming) | This paper summarizes what is known about the impact of public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the three sectors where they have been used intensively: infrastructure (energy, transport, water and sanitation, and telecommunications), education, and health. It lays out the main elements of economic theory relevant to analyzing the trade-off between PPPs and the public provision of complex projects. It places PPPs within a historical perspective. It reviews empirical evaluations of the effectiveness of PPPs and, whenever possible, the implications for social outcomes. Finally, it draws conclusions on cross-cutting issues that influence the efficiency of PPPs, from contract design and regulation to renegotiations and institutional issues. The paper straightens out and qualifies the record of existing evidence and signals some of the main areas and topics for future fruitful research.

Pandemic Schooling Mode and Student Test Scores: Evidence from U.S. School Districts | American Economic Review: Insights (Forthcoming) | We estimate the impact of district-level schooling mode (in-person versus hybrid or virtual learning) in the 2020–21 school year on students’ pass rates on standardized tests in Grades 3{8 across 11 states. Pass rates declined from 2019 to 2021: an average decline of 12.8 percentage points in math and 6.8 in English language arts (ELA). Focusing on within-state, within commuting zone variation in schooling mode, we estimate districts with full in-person learning had significantly smaller declines in pass rates (13.4 p.p. in math, 8.3 p.p. in ELA). The value to in-person learning was larger for districts with larger populations of Black students.

Returns to education in Central and Eastern European transition economies: The role of macroeconomic context | After the fall of communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe, the returns to education were substantially growing over time. The average estimated rate of return basing on more than 600 estimates is around 7%, but it shows variation depending on the methodology adopted, but also on countries’ characteristics. There is a positive impact of the unemployment rate and negative impact of the enrolment rates into tertiary education. The first observation suggests a countercyclicality of education returns while the latter shows that the dominance of supply of tertiary graduates reduced returns to schooling.