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Urban Density and Pupil Attainment

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  • Steve Gibbons
  • Olmo Silva

Abstract

We explore the association between urban density and pupil attainment using three cohorts of pupils in schooling in England. Although - as widely recognised - attainment in dense urban places is low on average, this is not because urban environments disadvantage pupils, but because the most disadvantaged pupils with low average attainments attend the most urbanised schools. To control for this, we exploit changes in urban density faced by pupils during compulsory transition from Primary to Secondary school, and measure educational progress at the end of the Secondary phase, relative to attainments at the end of Primary schooling. Our results suggest that there are small but significant benefits from education in schools in more densely urbanised settings: Pupils in schools in relatively dense places - measured in terms of school density and other urban indicators - progress faster than others in their cohort, but the elasticity is low, at around 0.02. We detect this density advantage even amongst pupils moving relatively short distances between Primary and Secondary schools within urban areas, so we cannot attribute it to broad urbanisation effects experienced by pupils making rural-urban school moves. A more likely explanation lies in greater school choice and competition between closely co-located educational providers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0080.

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Date of creation: May 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0080

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Web page: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/publications.htm

Related research

Keywords: Urban Density and Agglomeration; School Choice and Competition; Pupil Achievement;

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Cited by:
  1. Buddin, Richard & Zamarro, Gema, 2009. "Teacher qualifications and student achievement in urban elementary schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 103-115, September.
  2. Stephen Gibbons & Olmo Silva & Felix Weinhardt, 2010. "Do Neighbours Affect Teenage Outcomes? Evidence from Neighbourhood Changes in England," CEE Discussion Papers 0122, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  3. Rebecca Allen, 2010. "Does school autonomy improve educational outcomes? Judging the performance of foundation secondary schools in England," DoQSS Working Papers 10-02, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.
  4. Rebecca Allen & Anna Vignoles, 2009. "Can school competition improve standards? The case of faith schools in England," DoQSS Working Papers 09-04, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.
  5. Stephen Gibbons & Shqiponja Telhaj, 2006. "Are schools drifting apart? Intake stratification in English secondary schools," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19420, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Rose, Heather & Sonstelie, Jon, 2010. "School board politics, school district size, and the bargaining power of teachers' unions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 438-450, May.

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