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Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Childhood Investments on Postsecondary Attainment and Degree Completion

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  • Susan Dynarski
  • Joshua M. Hyman
  • Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of early childhood investments on college enrollment and degree completion. We use the random assignment in the Project STAR experiment to estimate the effect of smaller classes in primary school on college entry, college choice, and degree completion. We improve on existing work in this area with unusually detailed data on college enrollment spells and the previously unexplored outcome of college degree completion. We find that assignment to a small class increases the probability of attending college by 2.7 percentage points, with effects more than twice as large among blacks. Among students enrolled in the poorest third of schools, the effect is 7.3 percentage points. Smaller classes increase the likelihood of earning a college degree by 1.6 percentage points and shift students towards high-earning fields such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), business and economics. We find that test score effects at the time of the experiment are an excellent predictor of long-term improvements in postsecondary outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17533.

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Date of creation: Oct 2011
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Publication status: published as Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Childhood Investments on Postsecondary Attainment and Degree Completion (with Joshua Hyman and Diane Schanzenbach). 2013. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 32:4, pp. 692-717 (lead article). Ray Vernon Memorial Prize for best paper in JPAM.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17533

Note: CH ED LS PE
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References

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  1. Dee, Thomas S., 2004. "Are there civic returns to education?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1697-1720, August.
  2. Dynarski, Susan, 2001. "Does Aid Matter? Measuring the Effect of Student Aid on College Attendance and Completion," Working Paper Series, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government rwp01-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Arcidiacono, Peter, 2004. "Ability sorting and the returns to college major," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 343-375.
  4. Carneiro, Pedro & Heckman, James J., 2003. "Human Capital Policy," IZA Discussion Papers 821, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Joshua D. Angrist & Susan M. Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag A. Pathak & Christopher R. Walters, 2010. "Who Benefits from KIPP?," NBER Working Papers 15740, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Chetty, Raj & Friedman, John Norton & Hilger, Nathanial & Saez, Emmanuel & Schanzenbach, Dianne Whitmore & Yagan, Danny, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," Scholarly Articles, Harvard Kennedy School of Government 9639983, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  7. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Joshua D. Angrist & Susan M. Dynarski & Thomas J. Kane & Parag A. Pathak, 2011. "Accountability and Flexibility in Public Schools: Evidence from Boston's Charters And Pilots," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 699-748.
  8. David J. Deming & Justine S. Hastings & Thomas J. Kane & Douglas O. Staiger, 2011. "School Choice, School Quality and Postsecondary Attainment," NBER Working Papers 17438, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Donald, Stephen G., 2008. "The effect of college curriculum on earnings: An affinity identifier for non-ignorable non-response bias," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 144(2), pages 479-491, June.
  10. Black, Philip & Calitz, Estian & Steenekamp, Tjaart & Siebrits, Krige (ed.), 2011. "Public Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, edition 5, number 9780195995152, October.
  11. John Bound & Michael F. Lovenheim & Sarah Turner, 2010. "Why Have College Completion Rates Declined? An Analysis of Changing Student Preparation and Collegiate Resources," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 129-57, July.
  12. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long & Philip Oreopoulos & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2009. "The Role of Simplification and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Caroline M. Hoxby & Sonali Murarka, 2009. "Charter Schools in New York City: Who Enrolls and How They Affect Their Students' Achievement," NBER Working Papers 14852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Lisa Barrow & Thomas Brock & Lashawn Richburg-Hayes & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2009. "Paying for performance: the education impacts of a community college scholarship program for low-income adults," Working Paper Series, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago WP-09-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  15. David Deming, 2009. "Early Childhood Intervention and Life-Cycle Skill Development: Evidence from Head Start," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 111-34, July.
  16. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Arteaga, Irma & Humpage, Sarah & Reynolds, Arthur J. & Temple, Judy A., 2014. "One year of preschool or two: Is it important for adult outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 221-237.
  2. Hilary W. Hoynes & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Douglas Almond, 2012. "Long Run Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net," NBER Working Papers 18535, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. Susan Dynarski & Mark Wiederspan, 2012. "Student Aid Simplification: Looking Back and Looking Ahead," NBER Working Papers 17834, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Philip DeCicca & Justin D. Smith, 2011. "The Long-Run Impacts of Early Childhood Education: Evidence From a Failed Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 17085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Matthew M. Chingos & Kenneth A. Couch, 2013. "Class Size and Student Outcomes: Research and Policy Implications," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(2), pages 411-438, 03.
  7. Gelber, Alexander & Isen, Adam, 2013. "Children's schooling and parents' behavior: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 25-38.
  8. Dynarski, Susan & Wiederspan, Mark, 2012. "Student Aid Simplification: Looking Back And Looking Ahead," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 65(1), pages 211-34, March.
  9. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2011. "The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood," NBER Working Papers 17699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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