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Atlanta Marriott Marquis, A708
American Economic Association
The Productivity of Various Schooling Inputs
Friday, Jan. 4, 2019 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM
- Chair: Scott Imberman, Michigan State University
ProPelled: The Effects of Grants on Graduation, Earnings, and Welfare
AbstractWe estimate effects of the largest U.S. federal grant for college students using administrative data from Texas four-year public colleges and a discontinuity in grant generosity. Eligibility for additional grant aid significantly increases degree receipt and earnings beginning four years after entry. Estimated increases in income tax payments fully recoup government expenditures within ten years. A theoretical model shows that welfare effects of changes in college prices depend on (1) externalities from recipients’ behavioral responses and (2) facilitation of intertemporal consumption smoothing. Calibration suggests that increasing grant aid for low-income college students would enhance welfare in many U.S. settings.
Testing the Water: Drinking Water Quality, Public Notification, and School Outcomes
AbstractThis is the first paper to estimate the effect of water quality violations on school absences and test scores in the United States. Many common water pollutants have the potential to affect child health. Microorganisms, such as coliform bacteria, pose immediate threats to gastrointestinal health, while other contaminants can cause dizziness, sleepiness, and headaches in the short-term and developmental effects and cancer in the long-term. These health effects may be difficult to observe in traditional health data, such as emergency room visits, which can only capture extreme health episodes. Poor water quality may be more likely to translate into school absences, reduced concentration, or reduced performance during school. Using administrative data on school attendance, water quality violations, and community water supply systems, I quantify the effect of health-based water quality violations on school absences and test scores in North Carolina. Exposure to acute and monthly coliform bacteria violations increases school absences by 7 and 4 percent, respectively. Although both acute and monthly coliform violations worsen school outcomes, only acute violations increase bottled water purchases. Unlike monthly coliform violations, acute violations require immediate 24 hour public notice, which suggests that the method and timing of notification has an important impact on avoidance behaviors.
The Impact of Teaching Grit on Student Non-Cognitive Skills and Learning Outcomes
AbstractNon-cognitive skills are key predictors of educational and labor market outcomes. We study how cultivating a particular non-cognitive skill – grit (perseverance in the pursuit of long-term goals) – affects student learning. To do so, we implemented a short goal-setting and planning intervention which has been shown to foster grit in the curriculum of all sixth and seventh grade primary-school students (about 42,000 students across 350 schools) in Macedonia. We find that students exposed to this updated curriculum show improved non-cognitive skills, in particular grit, growth mindset, and frustration reaction, relative to students in the control condition. Impacts on students are larger in a condition in which both students and teachers are treated (relative to students only). For disadvantaged groups, we find that the intervention increases grade point averages by up to 10% of a standard deviation. Given that it is low-cost, this yields a very favorable cost-effectiveness ratio compared to other (behavioral) interventions.
Free Lunch for All! The Effect of the Community Eligibility Provision Program on Academic Outcomes
AbstractIn this paper, we analyze the effect of Community Eligibility Provision, a universal free-lunch program, on middle and elementary school students’ academic performance and attendance in the state of South Carolina. As part of the program, eligible schools can provide free lunch to all students, regardless of whether an individual student qualifies for free or reduced lunch. Using a difference in differences setup, we show that this program leads to about 0.03-0.04 of a standard deviation increase in Math test scores for elementary school students. We find smaller, but statistically insignificant effects on reading scores. We find no significant effect for middle schoolers' test scores. The effects are most substantial for students that were previously eligible for free lunches and students in poorer and more rural areas. We find no overall effect on attendance from the program; however, we do see a decline in absences for students in urban areas.
- I2 - Education and Research Institutions