William Cook, 21 October 2020

Though it is recognized that pupils whose schooling is being disrupted by Covid-19 are suffering immediate learning loss, there exists a lack of understanding as to how this disruption might affect longer-term educational outcomes. Will Cook (Manchester Metropolitan University) examines the effect of school disruption in England due to restrictions put in place to manage the Foot and Mouth Disease epidemic in cattle in 2001 and analyzes whether primary schools that had been significantly disrupted by the epidemic experienced lower performance in standardized tests for pupils aged 11 in the year of the outbreak and in subsequent years.  He explains to Tim Phillips that, although there certainly are falls in achievement immediately after disruption,  this effect fades over subsequent years.

Graziella Bertocchi, Monica Bozzano, 05 October 2020

For most of history, women have been undereducated relative to men. While the gender gap in education has closed – and even reversed – in recent times, sharp differences still exist across levels of education and countries. Even where women have outpaced men in educational attainment, gender gaps in employment, entrepreneurship and politics persist. Women are visibly underrepresented in STEM and economics – fields typically lead to higher employability and wages. This column reviews the historical roots of the gender gap, which, despite changing conditions and incentives, continue to exert an influence through labour markets, family formation dynamics, and cultural factors. 

Debopam Bhattacharya, Renata Rabovic, 15 September 2020

The balance between merit and diversity in university admissions is a controversial issue, but statistical analysis is challenging because applicant characteristics are only observed by admissions officers and post-entry test scores are only available for those who were admitted. This column uses a novel, outcome-based test of merit-based admissions at Cambridge University, where some applicants enter via a second-round clearing mechanism from a ‘pool’, to bypass the non-observability problems. The test reveals robust evidence of higher admissions standards for men in STEM and economics, and weak evidence of the same for private school applicants. The gender gap is non-evident in law and medicine.

Sofoklis Goulas, Rigissa Megalokonomou, 17 August 2020

During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, Greece eased its high school attendance policy despite few cases being reported among children of high school age. This column examines the relationship between the relaxed attendance policy and absences, academic performance, and neighbourhood income. Students of higher prior performance took more absences, while students of lower prior performance kept going to school. Prior performance is positively associated with neighbourhood income, suggesting that students in poorer neighbourhoods may be less likely to follow school distancing guidelines during a pandemic. The relaxed attendance policy is associated with decreased performance for students that take more absences.

Eric Hanushek, Lavinia Kinne, Philipp Lergetporer, Ludger Woessmann, 02 August 2020

Differences in student achievement are strongly related to both future individual earnings and national economic growth. Cultural traits that underlie intertemporal decision-making may affect how much students learn. Using data for close to two million students across 49 countries during 2000–2018, this column looks at levels of patience and risk-taking and its effect on student performance. A positive effect of patience and a negative effect of risk-taking can account for two-thirds of the cross-country variation in student achievement. Among migrant students, patience and risk-taking levels of the students’ countries of origin had remarkably similar effects on educational performance in the host country.

Chirantan Chatterjee, Eric Hanushek, Shreekanth Mahendiran, 23 July 2020

Expanding access to schools has been an important goal of development policy. This column studies the 2009 Right to Education Act in India intended to mandate compulsory and free access to schools for all children aged 6 to 14. It finds that the act led to an increase in the number of private tuition centres which partly crowded out the goal of more equal access to education as only children from wealthier households can afford private tuition.


Richard V. Burkhauser, Nicolas Hérault, Stephen P. Jenkins, Roger Wilkins, 21 July 2020

The share of total income held by those at the very top of the income distribution has been much analysed, but despite a rising share of women in the top 1% of the income distribution, less is known about the gender divide at the top. This column analyses gender differences among the UK top 1% between 1999 and 2015. The rising share of women in the top 1% is largely accounted for by women having increased the time they spend in full-time education by more than men did.

Qing Hu, Ross Levine, Chen Lin, Mingzhu Tai, 18 July 2020

The financial conditions facing parents can have effects on children’s education outcomes, both in terms of schooling and parental support at home. This column presents evidence from the US, arguing that changes in banking regulation across states can cause changes in the experience of children through a number of channels. These effects are not uniform across household income brackets and can be mitigated when there are other family members such as grandparents that are able to help children with their personal development.

Simon Burgess, 16 June 2020

As policy attention in countries around Europe shifts to mitigating the longer-run impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, a central concern will be to prevent this one-off event from permanently blighting the life chances of the millions of children who missed weeks of school due to the lockdown. Focusing on the UK, this column suggests a way to repair some of the educational damage using small group tutoring, a method with widely proven effectiveness, at a modest cost, and on a rapid but feasible timescale.

Simon Burgess, Hans Henrik Sievertsen, 01 April 2020

The global lockdown of education institutions is going to cause major (and likely unequal) interruption in students’ learning; disruptions in internal assessments; and the cancellation of public assessments for qualifications or their replacement by an inferior alternative. This column discusses what can be done to mitigate these negative impacts.

Katharina Janke, David Johnston, Carol Propper, Michael A Shields, 08 March 2020

A robust finding in the social sciences is the strong positive correlation between education and health status at all age, but evidence on causality in this relationship has been mixed. This column exploits two education reforms in the UK to study the causal link between education and a large set of prevalent chronic health conditions. While the results indicate, as expected, a clear and statistically significant negative association between years of education and chronic ill health, the strength of association weakens considerably – with the exception of diabetes – once causal identification techniques are applied.

Benjamin W. Cowan, Nathan Tefft, 23 February 2020

Over the past decade, there has been increasing interest in expanding access to college education in the US. This column examines how changes in college access in the US at the end of the 20th century affected schooling and health-related behaviours and outcomes. Increased access to two-year college, in particular, has had a positive impact on health-related behaviours such as smoking or exercising for some sub-populations. There is also some evidence that more years of schooling improved health outcomes, although more research is needed to understand the longer-term effects.

Dominic Rohner, 14 February 2020

New research shows how a school-building programme in Indonesia successfully reduced conflict. Dominic Rohner tells Tim Phillips about this unanticipated peace dividend, and how the CEPR's research and policy network on conflict reduction will help policymakers.

Sofoklis Goulas, Rigissa Megalokonomou, 11 January 2020

Exam scheduling may contribute to performance gaps between subjects, between males and females, as well as between students with differing performance histories. Using lottery-generated variation in exam timing at a Greek public high school, this column identifies three distinct channels through which exam scheduling can influence test performance. The simulation experiments show that the higher the number of exams taken, the higher the potential benefit from optimising exams scheduling.

Li Yang, Filip Novokmet, Branko Milanovic, 09 October 2019

The historically unprecedented economic and social transformation in China over the past four decades has seen urban areas becoming much richer, but also much more unequal. This column analyses changes in the Chinese urban elite. It finds that, compared to the 1980s, the elite today consists mainly of professionals, self-employed, and smaller and larger business people, they are much better educated, and they receive a much greater share of total urban income. This is reflected also in the composition of the Communist Party of China.

Natalie Bau, 14 September 2019

Families’ attitudes towards educational investment and lifetime saving are underpinned by longstanding cultural attitudes that must be considered in policy design. This column shows that in Indonesia and Ghana – two culturally distinct societies – families historically invested in the education of those children who would look after parents in old age. The level of this investment declined after the introduction of pensions in both countries.

Sarah Cohodes, Elizabeth Setren, Chris Walters, 22 August 2019

Interventions that succeed in small-scale demonstrations often fail to sustain their effects when scaled up. This column examines the case of an expansion of the successful charter school sector in Boston, Massachusetts. The findings reveal that the city’s charter sector maintained effectiveness while doubling in size, and that organisational practices in the sector may be an important component of its success at scale.

Mara Squicciarini, 18 August 2019

Religion has had a complex relationship with technological progress throughout history, but there is scant empirical evidence on how conservative religious values may have affected the spread of new ideas and, by extension, economic development. This column examines the influence of the Catholic Church on technical education in France during the Second Industrial Revolution. It finds that areas with higher ‘religiosity’ had lower levels of industrial and economic development, suggesting that conservative religion can hamper economic development when it prevents primary schools from adopting technical education.

Laurence Boone, 26 July 2019

France has surprisingly low social mobility. OECD chief economist Laurence Boone tells Tim Phillips why this is the case, how the problem fuels the gilets jaunes protests, and what can be done about it.

Diether W. Beuermann, Kirabo Jackson, 06 July 2019

Most parents have strong views regarding which schools to send their children to. However, evidence shows that attending sought-after public secondary schools does not improve secondary-school examination performance. This column uses data from Barbados to show that secondary school choice does not appear to lead to improvements in exam performance. However, it does have a sizable effect on short-run non-cognitive outcomes that may affect longer-run outcomes.


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