Can trust be taught in the classroom? The authors of CEPR DP8625 present evidence that progressive or 'horizontal' teaching methods can help children develop beliefs that reinforce social capital, with broad benefits for society and the economy overall.
The impacts of education on crime, health and mortality, and civic participation
Lance Lochner17 October 2011
Given recent budget problems around the world, many governments have proposed sharp cuts to education. What are the likely long-run costs of these cuts? This column reviews a growing body of studies and concludes that crime rates are likely to increase, health and mortality are likely to deteriorate, and political and social institutions may suffer.
Given recent budget problems around the world, many governments have proposed sharp cuts to education. What are the likely long-run costs of these cuts? Growing evidence suggests that the lasting impacts of reductions in early childhood investments, school quality, and educational attainment among today’s youth are likely to extend beyond declines in future productivity and earnings. Crime rates are likely to increase, health and mortality are likely to deteriorate, and political and social institutions may suffer.
A different approach to assessment-based accountability
Derek Neal, Gadi Barlevy08 October 2011
Should teachers be on performance-related pay? Will it bring out the best in their abilities and, it is hoped, the children they are educating? What is the best way to measure such performance? This column presents a new proposal for teacher wages: Pay for Percentile.
For more than two decades, school systems in the US and around the world have introduced new accountability and incentive systems for public school educators that rely of the test scores of students as performance signals for educators. There is now a large empirical body of evidence on the effects of these assessment-based accountability and performance pay systems (Cunha and Heckman 2008).
Expanding access to elite education: What do we know?
Sandra McNally, Nina Guyon, Eric Maurin06 October 2011
In almost all countries, students are split up by ability at some stage in their education. This column looks at the effect of a change in policy in Northern Ireland that made entry into the elite group easier.
Facebook and its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, are products of Harvard University, often listed as the finest university in the world. The book and movie1 about the rise of Facebook make a clear connection between the success of the company and the university where it started: both Facebook and Harvard targeted the exclusive and the elite. Facebook has recently registered its 500 millionth member.
As witnessed during this year’s Arab Spring, democracy doesn’t always emerge smoothly. This column examines the long march toward political freedom since 1800. It argues that while both income and education affect democracy, the rise in primary education has been the main driver of democratisation over 1870-2000.
Throughout history the march toward political freedom has not been a smooth process. It has happened in fits and starts, in waves, and was often reversed or interrupted. The collapse of several Middle Eastern authoritarian regimes in the wake of this year’s Arab Spring illustrates the point clearly.
The industrial revolution is, for many, the start of modern economic growth. But what started the industrial revolution? The consensus view is that scarce labour stimulated labour-saving inventions and induced innovation. This column begs to differ. It argues that it was the technical competence of the British mechanical elite that allowed great ideas to turn into economic realities.
The Industrial Revolution is widely regarded as the start of modern economic growth. In his recent influential work, Allen (2009a, 2009b) has resurrected induced innovation theory and re-emphasised the role of factor prices. As the theory goes, scarce labour (measured by high wages) stimulated labour-saving inventions in Britain – basically induced innovation is a corollary of the old saying, “necessity is the mother of invention”. We beg to differ.
The standard efficiency argument in favour of democracy is based on the idea that free elections are an effective instrument for ousting inept and corrupt politicians (e.g. Sen 2000). This view, however, is based on the assumptions that voters are capable of monitoring and evaluating government actions.
“The people want the fall of the regime”: Schooling, political protest, and the economy
Davin Chor, Filipe R Campante25 April 2011
Political drama continues to unfold in the Middle East. This column uncovers education’s role in the recent uprisings. It finds that one unforeseen effect of increased investment in education has been the creation of a generation of well-educated but frustrated political activists. It concludes that – in more ways than one – the Middle East autocrats have contributed to their own downfall.
The wave of political protest that has shaken the Middle East since late 2010 has been a textbook example of a “prairie fire” revolution (Kuran 1989). The tragic act of protest of a Tunisian street vendor set off a contagious streak of demonstrations that has so far claimed two seemingly unshakeable incumbents in Tunisia and Egypt and still threatens a number of fellow strongmen. In seeking to explain the underlying causes of these protest movements, the popular narrative has pointed to the confluence of two structural forces, namely demographics and economic conditions.
Most people agree that friends matter – not just for personal wellbeing but for achieving their goals in life. Several studies have shown this to be particularly the case in education but the detection and measure of such peer effects is often found wanting. Using detailed information on friendship networks of American high-school students, this column finds that the friends we make at age 15 to 18 have a strong and persistent effect on our lives.
Each student influences his or her classmates – not only through knowledge spillovers and how teachers respond to him/her, but also in how he/she affects classroom standards. A less disciplined student is more likely to disrupt his/her classmates, forcing the teacher to devote more time in class to disciplining rather than transmitting knowledge. Therefore a student’s performance in school may be influenced by the characteristics and behaviour of his/her peers.
Investment in financial literacy and saving decisions
Tullio Jappelli, Mario Padula08 February 2011
Previous research has suggested that low levels of financial literacy can often be blamed for poor financial decisions by individuals, with knock-on effects for the wider economy. This column adds empirical evidence based on cross-country aggregate and micro-data, showing that indeed countries with higher financial literacy also have higher saving rates and greater wealth.
The demographic transition is increasingly shifting the responsibility of saving decisions from the welfare system to individuals. The switch from defined benefits to defined contributions pension systems is making individuals more liable for their long-term saving choices. In addition, the recent financial crisis has questioned people’s ability to manage their debts.