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Are measured school effects just sorting?: Causality and correlation in the National Education Longitudinal Survey

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  • Levine, David I.
  • Painter, Gary

Abstract

Youth who share a school and neighborhood often show similar levels of academic achievement, but some studies find all or most of this correlation is due to sorting (not causation). We analyze the National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS) in three ways to decompose sorting versus causality: We first control for much richer measures of family background than other analysts have used. We next use characteristics of the students' future high school as an instrument for family background (as future high school quality is correlated with unobserved family background but cannot cause junior high test scores). Finally, we use regression and semi-nonparametric matching methods to look at changes in test score when youth change schools. The results create a collage of evidence that a significant fraction of the correlation is causal.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 27 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 460-470

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:27:y:2008:i:4:p:460-470

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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  1. Hanushek, Eric A. & Kain, John F. & Rivkin, Steven G., 2004. "Disruption versus Tiebout improvement: the costs and benefits of switching schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1721-1746, August.
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  4. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
  5. Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
  6. McEwan, Patrick J., 2003. "Peer effects on student achievement: evidence from Chile," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 131-141, April.
  7. Ron W Zimmer & Eugenia F Toma, 2000. "Peer effects in private and public schools across countries," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 75-92.
  8. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  9. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-91, October.
  10. Kling, Jeffrey & Liebman, Jeffrey, 2004. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects on Youth," Working Paper Series rwp04-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  11. Jens Otto Ludwig & Greg Duncan & Joshua C. Pinkston, 2000. "Neighborhood Effects on Economic Self-Sufficiency: Evidence from a Randomized Housing-Mobility Experiment," JCPR Working Papers 159, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  12. Joshua D. Angrist & Kevin Lang, 2002. "How Important are Classroom Peer Effects? Evidence from Boston's Metco Program," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 02-85, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
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Cited by:
  1. Lefebvre, Pierre & Merrigan, Philip & Verstraete, Matthieu, 2011. "Public subsidies to private schools do make a difference for achievement in mathematics: Longitudinal evidence from Canada," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 79-98, February.

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