Nicolas Ajzenman, Eleonora Bertoni, Gregory Elacqua, Luana Marotta, Carolina Méndez, 03 April 2021

Low-income students are more likely to attend schools with less-qualified teachers, expanding the very achievement gaps that public education should help reduce. Although the problem of teacher sorting is well-documented, policy responses have tended to focus on increasing compensation at hard-to-staff schools, which can be both expensive and ineffective. This column presents the results of a novel and low-cost strategy implemented nationwide by the government of Peru that successfully encouraged highly qualified teachers to apply for job openings in disadvantaged schools.

David Card, Ciprian Domnisoru, Lowell Taylor, 06 October 2018

There is wide variation in upward mobility across US states. This column uses a study of child schooling in 1940 to show that upward mobility in educational attainment is determined in part by local public education policy, with mobility greater in states with high teacher salaries, for example. This shows the potential of public education to improve equality of opportunity. 

Jeremiah Dittmar, Ralf R Meisenzahl, 26 April 2016

Throughout history, most states have functioned as kleptocracies and not as providers of public goods. This column analyses the diffusion of legal institutions that established Europe’s first large-scale experiments in mass public education. These institutions originated in Germany during the Protestant Reformation due to popular political mobilisation, but only in around half of Protestant cities. Cities that formalised these institutions grew faster over the next 200 years, both by attracting and by producing more highly skilled residents.

David de la Croix, Matthias Doepke, 21 September 2007

How is the quality of public education affected by the presence of private schools for the rich? Theory and evidence suggest that the link crucially depends on the structure of the political system. A large private education sector can benefit public schools in a broad-based democracy where politicians are responsive to the needs of families using public schools, but leads to disastrous outcomes in a society that is politically dominated by the rich.


CEPR Policy Research