Melissa S. Kearney, Phillip B. Levine, Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 00:00

Early childhood education has important effects on the academic readiness and ultimate life chances of children. This column examines how the introduction of the educational television show Sesame Street in the US affected primary school outcomes for disadvantaged children. Those from counties that had better access to the broadcast had superior educational outcomes through their early school years. These effects were particularly pronounced for black, non-Hispanic children, and those living in economically disadvantaged areas. The extremely low cost per child of such interventions make them ideal for addressing educational inequality in childhood.

Jakob de Haan, Dirk Schoenmaker, Monday, July 6, 2015 - 00:00

The financial crisis brought with it many challenges, both to prevailing disciplinary tenets, and for research and policy more generally. This column outlines the lessons that can be drawn from the financial crisis – issues like financial market failures, macro-prudential policy, structural changes of the financial system, and the European banking union. It argues for the inclusion of these topics in curricula for the next generation of finance students.

Nico Voigtländer, Hans-Joachim Voth, Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 00:00

Radical beliefs and violent hatred are back in the headlines and worrying policymakers around the world. This column discusses new research that suggests that, in the case of Nazi Germany, subjecting an entire population to the full power of a totalitarian state was extremely effective in instilling lasting hatred. Extremist views are still three times higher among Germans born in the 1930s than those born after 1950. However, family and the social environment can isolate young minds from the effects of indoctrination at least to some extent.

Jeffrey R. Brown, Chichun Fang, Francisco Gomes, Monday, March 23, 2015 - 00:00

Jason Furman, Friday, February 20, 2015 - 00:00

Juan Dolado, Monday, February 9, 2015 - 00:00

Nicholas Bloom, Renata Lemos, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, Sunday, December 7, 2014 - 00:00

Arnaud Chevalier, Olivier Marie, Saturday, November 8, 2014 - 00:00

Frédéric Docquier, Çağlar Özden, Giovanni Peri, Monday, October 6, 2014 - 00:00

Manudeep Bhuller, Magne Mogstad, Kjell G. Salvanes, Monday, September 22, 2014 - 00:00

Raphael Boleslavsky, Christopher Cotton, Saturday, August 16, 2014 - 00:00

Grade inflation is widely viewed as detrimental, compromising the quality of education and reducing the information content of student transcripts for employers. This column argues that there may be benefits to allowing grade inflation when universities’ investment decisions are taken into account. With grade inflation, student transcripts convey less information, so employers rely less on transcripts and more on universities’ reputations. This incentivises universities to make costly investments to improve the quality of their education and the average ability of their graduates.

Roland Kupers, Friday, July 25, 2014 - 00:00

Complexity science is changing the way we think about social systems and social theory. Unfortunately, economists’ policy models have not kept up and are stuck in either a market fundamentalist or government control narrative. This Vox Talk argues for a new, more flexible policy narrative, which envisions society as a complex evolving system that is uncontrollable but can be influenced.

André Carlos Martínez, Aldo Musacchio, Martina Viarengo , Wednesday, July 9, 2014 - 00:00

Institutions are known to play a powerful and enduring role in countries’ divergent levels of economic development. This column presents evidence that institutions matter for within-country inequality, too. In Brazil, changes in export prices and export tax revenues led to an increase in education spending in states that experienced commodity booms, which increased the number of schools and improved educational outcomes such as literacy rates. However, the effect was limited in states where slavery was predominant in colonial times.

Davide Cantoni, Yuyu Chen, David Y. Yang, Noam Yuchtman, Y. Jane Zhang, Thursday, May 29, 2014 - 00:00

Schooling changes are associated with ideological ones but it is difficult to claim a causal relationship. This column attempts to analyse the causal effect of curriculum changes in China on shaping preferences of students. The new curriculum moves one’s belief about democracy by about 25% of a standard deviation in the direction desired by the government. The findings suggest the state can use education to promote socially-useful beliefs and cultivate good citizenship.

Diane Coyle, Sunday, May 4, 2014 - 00:00

The undergraduate economics curriculum is hugely influential, since today’s undergraduates are tomorrow’s policymakers. The massive policy failures before and after the Global Crisis have thus prompted a rethink. This column argues that there is a reasonable degree of consensus on the need for curriculum reform, but no agreement on whether this means rejecting the basic building blocks of the subject. Nevertheless, undergraduate courses in five or ten years will almost surely have changed considerably in character.

Amparo Castelló-Climent, Rafael Doménech, Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 00:00

Most developing countries have made a great effort to eradicate illiteracy. As a result, the inequality in the distribution of education has been reduced by more than half from 1950 to 2010. However, inequality in the distribution of income has hardly changed. This column presents evidence from a new dataset on human capital inequality. The authors find that increasing returns to education, globalisation, and skill-biased technological change can explain why the fall in human capital inequality has not been sufficient to reduce income inequality.

Gregory Clark, Friday, April 4, 2014 - 00:00

Gregory Clark talks to Viv Davies about his new book titled "The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility". Using surname data from eight countries, the study concludes that fate and social status is determined by ancestry and that social mobility rates are lower than conventionally estimated, they do not vary across societies and are resistant to social policies. Effectively, capitalism has not led to pervasive, rapid mobility. The interview was recorded in London in March 2014.

Sarah Lewis, Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder, George L Wehby, Luisa Zuccolo, Saturday, March 8, 2014 - 00:00

Excessive drinking during pregnancy is known to harm the foetus, but estimating the effects of moderate prenatal alcohol consumption is difficult, since mothers who choose to drink may differ systematically from those who do not. This column presents recent research showing that a genetic variant in a maternal alcohol-metabolising gene (ADH1B) is negatively related to prenatal alcohol exposure, and unrelated to any of the background characteristics associated with prenatal drinking. Using this genetic variant as an ‘instrumental variable’, the authors find strong negative effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on child educational achievement.

Tomohiko Inui, Ryoji Matsuoka, Makiko Nakamuro, Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 00:00

Parents worry that their children waste too many hours playing video games or watching TV that would be better spent studying. Whereas past research has focused on teenagers, this column presents evidence on the causal effects of study and leisure hours for children of elementary school age, when key lifetime habits are being developed. Video entertainment is found to be a less significant determinant of time spent studying than parental involvement (such as supervision).

Thorvaldur Gylfason, Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 00:00

Based on statistical measures of different degrees of democracy vs. autocracy, this article briefly reviews the progress of democracy around the world during the past 212 years, and places democratic developments in Africa since 1960 in that context. Democracy is positively associated with education, which in turn is associated with lower fertility and greater longevity. Democracy is also associated with reduced corruption. Together, these effects suggest democracy should be good for growth – a hypothesis that is borne out by the data.


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