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School Inputs, Household Substitution, and Test Scores

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  • Jishnu Das
  • Stefan Dercon
  • James Habyarimana
  • Pramila Krishnan
  • Karthik Muralidharan
  • Venkatesh Sundararaman

Abstract

Empirical studies of the relationship between school inputs and test scores typically do not account for the fact that households will respond to changes in school inputs. We present a dynamic household optimization model relating test scores to school and household inputs, and test its predictions in two very different low-income country settings – Zambia and India. We measure household spending changes and student test score gains in response to unanticipated as well as anticipated changes in school funding. Consistent with the optimization model, we find in both settings that households offset anticipated grants more than unanticipated grants. We also find that unanticipated school grants lead to significant improvements in student test scores but anticipated grants have no impact on test scores. Our results suggest that naïve estimates of public education spending on learning outcomes that do not account for optimal household responses are likely to be considerably biased if used to estimate parameters of an education production function.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16830.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Publication status: published as Jishnu Das & Stefan Dercon & James Habyarimana & Pramila Krishnan & Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2013. "School Inputs, Household Substitution, and Test Scores," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 29-57, April.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16830

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  1. When blind is not beautiful
    by Matt in Aid Thoughts on 2014-04-15 09:30:58
  2. Should Development RCTs Be Blind? Not So Fast
    by ? in Global Development: Views from the Center on 2014-05-06 14:36:47
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Cited by:
  1. Muralidharan, Karthik & Prakash, Nishith, 2013. "Cycling to School: Increasing Secondary School Enrollment for Girls in India," IZA Discussion Papers 7585, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Morduch, Jonathan & Ravi, Shamika & Bauchet, Jonathan, 2012. "Failure vs. Displacement: Why An Innovative Anti-Poverty Program Showed No Net Impact," PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series 32, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  3. Robert Jensen, 2012. "Do Labor Market Opportunities Affect Young Women's Work and Family Decisions? Experimental Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 753-792.
  4. Gelber, Alexander & Isen, Adam, 2013. "Children's schooling and parents' behavior: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 25-38.
  5. De Witte, Kristof & Geys, Benny & Solondz, Catharina, 2014. "Public expenditures, educational outcomes and grade inflation: Theory and evidence from a policy intervention in the Netherlands," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 152-166.
  6. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan & Diana B. Moreira, 2012. "Corrupting Learning: Evidence from Missing Federal Education Funds in Brazil," NBER Working Papers 18150, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Abeberese, Ama Baafra & Kumler, Todd J. & Linden, Leigh L., 2011. "Improving Reading Skills by Encouraging Children to Read: A Randomized Evaluation of the Sa Aklat Sisikat Reading Program in the Philippines," IZA Discussion Papers 5812, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2013. "Contract Teachers: Experimental Evidence from India," NBER Working Papers 19440, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Fredriksson, Peter & Öckert, Björn & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 2014. "Inside the Black Box of Class Size: Mechanisms, Behavioral Responses, and Social Background," IZA Discussion Papers 8019, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2012. "School Governance, Teacher Incentives, and Pupil-Teacher Ratios: Experimental Evidence from Kenyan Primary Schools," NBER Working Papers 17939, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Ama Baafra Abeberese & Todd J. Kumler & Leigh L. Linden, 2011. "Improving Reading Skills by Encouraging Children to Read in School: A Randomized Evaluation of the Sa Aklat Sisikat Reading Program in the Philippines," NBER Working Papers 17185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Alexander M. Gelber & Adam Isen, 2011. "Children’s Schooling and Parents’ Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," NBER Working Papers 17704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Christoph Eder, 2013. "Displacement and Education of the Next Generation: Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina," HiCN Working Papers 152, Households in Conflict Network.
  14. Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2013. "The Aggregate Effect of School Choice: Evidence from a Two-stage Experiment in India," NBER Working Papers 19441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Elizabeth Beasley & Elise Huillery, 2013. "School Resources, Behavioral Responses and School Quality: Short-Term Experimental Evidence from Niger," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/7o52iohb7k6, Sciences Po.
  16. Ama Baafra Abeberese, 2011. "Improving Reading Skills by Encouraging Children to Read: A Randomized Evaluation of the Sa Aklat Sisikat Reading Program in the Philippines," Working Papers id:4312, eSocialSciences.
  17. Morduch, Jonathan & Ravi, Shamika & Bauchet, Jonathan, 2013. "Substitution Bias and External Validity: Why an Innovative Anti-poverty Program Showed no Net Impact," CEI Working Paper Series 2013-03, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.

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