Victor Chernozhukov, Hiroyuki Kasahara, Paul Schrimpf, 08 March 2021

Policymakers must weigh up the consequences of prolonged school closures on young people against any impact of reopening them on the spread of COVID-19. This column shows that counties in the US that opened K-12 schools with in-person learning modes experienced an increase in the growth rate of COVID-19 cases by 4.7% on average and by 6.4% when mask-wearing was not mandated for staff at school. The findings suggest that local governments should promote mask-wearing requirements and other mitigation measures at schools.

Robert Ainsworth, Rajeev Dehejia, Cristian Pop-Eleches , Miguel Urquiola, 07 February 2021

While giving households the freedom to choose their children’s schools is said to improve educational outcomes, households do not always choose the option that would boost their child’s performance the most. This column uses an informational experiment in Romania to examine whether households simply lack information about the schools’ ‘value-added’ or prefer to prioritise other school traits. When informed about the value-added of the local schools, households assigned higher preference ranks to high value-added schools. However, the experiment also affected the preferences of the students, suggesting that both information limitations and preferences seem to matter in school choice.

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.

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.

Bas van der Klaauw, 22 March 2019

Our cities are diverse, but often the schools in these cities are less so. Bas van der Klaauw of VU University Amsterdam tells Tim Phillips that it is not necessarily where we live that creates school segregation.

Annika B. Bergbauer, Eric Hanushek, Ludger Woessmann, 18 September 2018

School systems increasingly use student assessments for accountability purposes. By combining accountability reforms with international student achievement data over the past 15 years, this column shows that the expansion of standardised testing with external comparisons has improved student achievement in maths, science, and reading, while internal testing or teacher inspectorates without external comparisons have not. 

Manoj Atolia, Bin Grace Li, Ricardo Marto, Giovanni Melina, 09 August 2017

Despite investment in education appearing to be a more pressing need in many developing countries, spending on roads often exceeds that on schools. This column argues that the different pace with which roads and schools contribute to economic growth is central to governments’ optimal allocation decision. Investment in schools tends to lead to a larger long-run increase in output, but the effects are more delayed than for investment in roads. This trade-off contributes to the bias towards roads, in particular when government concerns about debt sustainability and policymakers’ myopia are taken into consideration.

Anna Vignoles, 07 June 2017

In international tests, the UK system performs quite well. In this video, Anna Vignoles underlines that this is the result of multiple policies, rather than a single one. This video was recorded at the Royal Economic Society Annual Conference held in Bristol in April 2017.

Stephen Billings , David Deming, Stephen Ross, 11 July 2016

The propensity for youths to commit crime has long been associated with where they live. This column looks at how the school they attend can shape this relationship. Exploiting changes to school catchment areas in a US school district, it shows that concentrations of students with similar characteristics and from similar neighbourhoods at the same school increase arrest rates, if these potential peers live close to each other. Moreover, youths who live near each other and are in the same school and grade are more likely to commit crimes together. Policies to decrease segregation in schools could thus be effective in reducing crime.

Nicholas Bloom, Renata Lemos, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 07 December 2014

Schools with greater autonomy often perform well, but there is disagreement over whether this is due to better management or cherry-picking of students. Based on interviews with over 1,800 head teachers, this column finds that management quality is strongly correlated with pupil performance. Autonomous schools have better management, and this result does not appear to be driven by pupil composition or other observable factors. However, autonomy for head teachers is not enough – accountability to school governors is also needed.

Maria Kuecken, Marie-Anne Valfort, 09 March 2013

Are African education policies reaching the marginalised? This column reports results from a cross-country analysis, finding that the sharing of textbooks has a positive effect only for the most privileged students. For the average student, textbook access has no impact on academic outcomes. Indeed, less privileged students perform poorly due to a combination of low parent and teacher expectation, poor health, and routine classroom disruptions. It is these factors that reduce the effectiveness of policies like the improvement of access to textbooks. For education to be truly for all, educational reforms must target the least privileged students.

Eric Hanushek, Ludger Woessmann, Susanne Link, 09 January 2012

We are increasingly told that school decisions are best made by head teachers who have a better knowledge of the demands on schools and the capacity of their staff. This column presents new research suggesting that local autonomy can indeed work, but only in countries where public examinations can help to keep teachers on their toes.

Stephen Machin, Sandra McNally, Olmo Silva, 14 December 2007

Do computers in schools help? Economists have long been sceptical, but new research finds that technology does have a positive effect on pupils’ performance.


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