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New Evidence on Class Size Effects: A Pupil Fixed Effects Approach

  • Nadir Altinok
  • Geeta Kingdon

The impact of class size on student achievement remains a thorny question for educational decision makers.� Meta-analyses of empirical studies emphasise the absence of class-size efects but detractors have argued against such pessimistic conclusions because many of the underlying studies have not paid attention to the endogeneity of class-size.� This paper uses a stringent method to address the endogeneity problem using TIMSS data on 45 countries.� We measure the class size effect by relating the difference in a student's achievement across subjects to the difference in his/her class-size across subjects.� This (subject-differenced) within-pupil achievement production function avoids the problem of the non-random matching of children to specific schools, and to classes within schools.� The results show a statistically significant effect of class size for 16 countries but in only 10 of them is the effect negative, and the effect size is very small in most cases.� Several robustness tests are carried out, including control for students' subject-specific ability and subject-specific teacher characteristics, and correct for possible measurement error.� Thus, our stringent approach to addressing the problem endogeneity confirms the findings of meta-analyses that find little support for class size effects.� We find that class-size effects are smaller in resource-rich countries than in developing countries, supporting the idea that the adverse effect of larger classes increases with class-size.� We also find that class size effects are smaller in regions with higher teacher quality.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Oxford in its journal Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics.

Volume (Year): 74 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (04)
Pages: 203-234

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Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:74:y:2012:i:2:p:203-234
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  1. Ammermüller, Andreas & Dolton, Peter J., 2006. "Pupil-teacher gender interaction effects on scholastic outcomes in England and the USA," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-60, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  2. Kingdon, Geeta & Teal, Francis, 2010. "Teacher unions, teacher pay and student performance in India: A pupil fixed effects approach," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 278-288, March.
  3. Holmlund, Helena & Sund, Krister, 2008. "Is the gender gap in school performance affected by the sex of the teacher," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 37-53, February.
  4. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Monazza Aslam & Geeta Kingdon, 2007. "What can Teachers do to Raise Pupil Achievement?," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2007-14, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  6. Geeta Gandhi Kingdon, 2006. "Teacher characteristics and student performance in India: A pupil fixed effects approach," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-059, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Eric A. Hanushek, 2002. "The Failure of Input-based Schooling Policies," NBER Working Papers 9040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Thomas S. Dee, 2005. "Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 11660, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
  10. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  11. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  12. Michael Kremer, 2003. "Randomized Evaluations of Educational Programs in Developing Countries: Some Lessons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 102-106, May.
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  14. Kenneth I. Wolpin & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2000. "Natural "Natural Experiments" in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(4), pages 827-874, December.
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