Education

David Autor, David Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth, Melanie Wasserman, 22 June 2016

Around the world, girls tend to surpass boys in educational achievement. Early childhood inputs have been shown to be particularly important for the formation of children’s skills and behavioural patterns. Using US data, this column shows that in higher-quality schools the gender gap in terms of both skills and behaviour shrinks, with essentially no boy-girl disparity in outcomes at the very best schools. Better schools are thus an effective policy lever for reducing gender disparities in elementary and middle school outcomes. 

Giorgio Brunello, Guglielmo Weber, Christoph Weiss, 15 June 2016

Early life conditions can have long-lasting effects on individual development and labour market success. Using a sequence of reforms that raised the minimum school-leaving age in Europe, this column investigates how access to books at home influences educational and labour market outcomes. The returns to an additional year of education for individuals brought up in households with few books are much lower than for the luckier ones who had more than a shelf of books at home.

Orazio Attanasio, Sarah Cattan, Sonya Krutikova, 09 June 2016

The importance of investment in children’s pre-school years for their later life outcomes is increasingly recognised by policymakers. This column surveys the evidence on early childhood development policies in both developed and developing countries. Research suggests that effective education programmes can be implemented at scale even in low-income settings, but the quality of the service and adapting it to the local context are crucial. Sustaining the gains from intervention in the ‘early years’ is also likely to require continuing investment at later stages of childhood.

Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Paolo Masella, 05 June 2016

There are strong links between the nature of education in a country and its political institutions, and an individual’s education can impact their lifetime labour market choices. This column examines how being educated under a socialist regime impacts individuals in a free labour market. Using data on students from East and West Germany in the 1970s, it finds that a socialist regime education led to a larger spread in labour market outcomes – more of these individuals were not employed, but conditional on being employed, had higher wages and a higher probability of achieving a professional status in the East.

Kevin Rinz, Daniel Hungerman, 15 May 2016

In the last decade, US states have created dozens of large-scale programmes that use public resources to subsidise attendance at private schools, but there is disagreement over who benefits from these subsidies. This column estimates the effects of the programmes on school revenue and enrolment. The programmes increase revenue, but the mechanism depends on the design. In programmes with restricted eligibility the subsidies reach families and increase enrolment, whereas in unrestricted programmes the subsidies flow to schools and increase revenue per student. 

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