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Multiple outcomes of education
In this study, we examine an at-scale effort to encourage the formation of career pathways in California, with the goal of estimating the initiative’s causal effects on community college enrollment. We leverage a discontinuous assignment rule used to award grant funds to obtain credibly causal estimates of an ambitious $500 million effort to expand and establish career and technical education pathways between K-12 and community colleges. The competitive grant application process used a standardized rubric, and those receiving a score above a predetermined threshold were awarded funding (i.e., treatment group) while those just below received no funding (i.e., control group), allowing for a regression discontinuity (RD) design. We found that successful grantees did not experience overall enrollment increases in postsecondary partnerships; however, there were enrollment increases of 13.5 percent to 14.8 percent in CTE health sector courses, the program targeted the most for expansion. Manufacturing, and information communication technology, the other programs with the most expanded offerings, experienced no increases in postsecondary enrollment. The enrollment increases for the health sector were concentrated amongst female students in line with earlier findings by Bonilla (2020) documenting reductions in high school dropout rates for female students. These findings suggest that partnerships between K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions may be a viable avenue for increasing alignment between enrollment and high- growth sectors.
We study the distributional effects of remote learning. Our approach combines newly collected data on parental preferences with administrative data from Los Angeles. The preference data allow us to account for selection into remote learning while also studying selection patterns and treatment effect heterogeneity. We find a negative average effect of remote learning on reading (–0.14σ) and math (–0.17σ). Notably, we find evidence of positive learning effects for children whose parents have the strongest demand for remote learning. Our results suggest an important subset of students who currently sort into post-pandemic remote learning benefit from expanded choice.
We use linked individual-level data on school enrollment, physician services received, and prescription medications to measure the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated disruptions on mental health treatment received by adolescents in British Columbia. We also investigate whether these effects are mediated by socioeconomic status and schooling mode. The results suggest substantial increases for non-Indigenous English home language girls in treatment for depression/anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders and other mental health conditions. Indigenous and non-English home language girls also show increases in treatment for depression/anxiety, and Indigenous girls show increases in treatment for ADHD. In contrast, boys show no change or even reductions in treatment for most mental health conditions. These effects vary somewhat by socioeconomic status, but we find no evidence that they vary substantially by schooling mode.
I estimate the effect of attending an associate's degree in nursing program on nursing licensure. I use student-level academic data for all California community college students, matched to public records on all nursing licenses earned in the state. I produce causal estimates using random variation from admissions lotteries at a large nursing program. Enrolling in the program increases the probability of having an active nursing license by 59 percentage points within three years. By seven years the effect is smaller and not statistically significant. I estimate the value of a nursing license as approximately $5,000-$6,000 per year.
Little is known about the impact of peer personality on human capital formation. This paper studies the peer effect of persistence, a personality trait that reflects perseverance when facing challenges and setbacks, on student achievement. Exploiting student-classroom random assignments in middle schools in China, I find having more persistent peers improves in student achievement. The effects are prominent in students with high and medium baseline persistence. I find three mechanisms: (i) students’ own persistence and self-disciplined behaviors increase; (ii) teachers become more responsible/patient and spend more time on teaching preparation; and (iii) endogenous friendship networks consisting of more academically successful peers and fewer disruptive peers develop, particularly among students who share with similar levels of persistence.
Even though women have continuously caught up with men in education attainment and labor market participation since the 1970s, the wage gap between men and women still universally exists today. Do female college graduates still earn less than their male counterparts if men’s and women’s “profiles” of observed productivity-related characteristics are statistically adjusted to be equivalent? To answer this research question and better understand the current gender wage gap, I introduce a novel propensity score stratification method for gender wage gap decomposition. This new method overcomes certain limitations of the traditional Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition method, and provides an example of validly applying propensity score-based methods (mostly used in causal settings) to gender wage gap decomposition, a non-causal setting. Making use of this new method, I analyze a nationally representative sample from the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study, which represents the 1993 Cohort of U.S. college graduates. Through propensity score stratification, the observed productivity-related characteristics between men and women in the sample are statistically adjusted to be equivalent within each stratum of propensity score. After “equalizing” these characteristics, evidence shows the women-to-men wage ratio among this college educated population is still 87.4% at the tenth year after they graduated from college. This remaining gender gap cannot be explained by the observed gender differences in productivity-related characteristics, and is the evidence of a discriminatory wage gap possibly existing in the labor market. Additionally, the unexplained gender wage gap universally exists regardless whether these “profiles” of qualifications and labor market experience are stereotypically female or male. Even acknowledging that this research cannot account for all the gender differences in productivity due to data limitation, the results of this research will add to the empirical evidence of measuring the discriminatory wage gap that possibly exists in the labor market.
School closures induced by the COVID-19 pandemic led to concerns about student learning. This paper evaluates the effect of school closures on student learning in Uzbekistan, using a unique dataset that allows assessing change in learning over time. The findings show that test scores in math for grade 5 students improved over time by 0.29 standard deviation despite school closures. The outcomes among students who were assessed in 2019 improved by an average of 0.72 standard deviation over the next two years, slightly lower than the expected growth of 0.80 standard deviation. The paper explores the reasons for no learning loss.
Fadeout is a pervasive phenomenon: post-test impacts on cognitive skills commonly decrease in the years following an educational intervention. Less is known, although much is theorized, about social-emotional skill persistence. The current meta-analysis investigated whether educational RCT impacts on social-emotional skills demonstrated greater persistence than impacts on cognitive skills among 87 interventions involving 59,237 participants and 443 outcomes measured at post-test and at least one follow-up. For post-test impacts of the same magnitude, persistence rates were similar (43% of post-test magnitude) across skill types for follow-ups occurring 6 to 12 months after post-test. At 1- to 2-year follow-ups, persistence rates were larger for cognitive skills (37%) than for social-emotional skills. Interestingly, smaller posttest impacts persisted at proportionately higher rates than larger impacts, which may benefit interventions measuring social-emotional outcomes given their smaller post-test impacts. Considered in whole, social-emotional and cognitive skills demonstrated similar patterns of fadeout.
School mobility, compounding socioeconomic inequities, can undermine academic achievement and behavior, particularly during middle school years. This study investigates the effect of a school-based integrated student support intervention – City Connects – on the achievement and behavior of middle school students who experience school mobility. Using administrative data from a large, urban, public school district in the U.S., we apply student fixed effects and event studies methods to analyze the academic and behavioral performance of students changing schools. The results indicate that students who moved to schools implementing the City Connects intervention performed better academically and behaviorally than other students.
In 2006, the federal government effectively uncapped student borrowing for graduate programs with the introduction of the Graduate PLUS loan program. Access to additional federal loans increased graduate students’ borrowing and shifted the composition of their loans from private to federal debt. However, the increase in borrowing limits did not improve access to existing programs overall or for underrepresented groups. Nor did access to additional loan aid result in significant increase in constrained students’ persistence or degree receipt. We document that among programs in which a larger share of graduate students had exhausted their annual federal loan eligibility before the policy change—and thus were more exposed to the expansion in access to credit—federal borrowing and prices increased.