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

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  • Nadir Altinok
  • Geeta Kingdon

Abstract

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 effects 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 correction 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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Suggested Citation

  • Nadir Altinok & Geeta Kingdon, 2012. "New Evidence on Class Size Effects: A Pupil Fixed Effects Approach," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 74(2), pages 203-234, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:obuest:v:74:y:2012:i:2:p:203-234
    DOI: j.1468-0084.2011.00648.x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hanushek, Eric A., 2006. "School Resources," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    2. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Thomas S. Dee, 2007. "Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(3).
    6. Aslam, Monazza & Kingdon, Geeta, 2011. "What can teachers do to raise pupil achievement?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 559-574, June.
    7. Ammermüller, Andreas & Dolton, Peter J., 2006. "Pupil-teacher gender interaction effects on scholastic outcomes in England and the USA," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-060, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    8. 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.
    9. 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 3-33, February.
    10. 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.
    11. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects of Class Size on Student Achievement: New Evidence from Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285.
    12. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Duncan McVicar & Julie Moschion & Chris Ryan, 2016. "Achievement Effects from New Peers: Who Matters to Whom?," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2016n17, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    2. Hanushek, Eric A. & Woessmann, Ludger, 2011. "The Economics of International Differences in Educational Achievement," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    3. Mohammad Reza Farzanegan & Marcel Thum, 2017. "Oil Dependency and Quality of Education: New Empirical Evidence," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201745, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    4. Farzanegan, Mohammad Reza & Thum, Marcel, 2017. "More oil, less quality of education? New empirical evidence," CEPIE Working Papers 09/17, Technische Universität Dresden, Center of Public and International Economics (CEPIE).
    5. Torberg Falch & Astrid Marie Jorde Sandsør & Bjarne Strøm, 2017. "Do Smaller Classes Always Improve Students’ Long-run Outcomes?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 79(5), pages 654-688, October.
    6. Ludger Woessmann, 2016. "The Importance of School Systems: Evidence from International Differences in Student Achievement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 3-32, Summer.
    7. Metzler, Johannes & Woessmann, Ludger, 2012. "The impact of teacher subject knowledge on student achievement: Evidence from within-teacher within-student variation," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 486-496.
    8. Graham McKee & Katharine Sims & Steven Rivkin, 2015. "Disruption, learning, and the heterogeneous benefits of smaller classes," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1267-1286, May.
    9. Richard B. Freeman & Martina Viarengo, 2014. "School and family effects on educational outcomes across countries," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 29(79), pages 395-446, July.
    10. Stephen Gibbons & Sandra McNally, 2013. "The Effects of Resources Across School Phases: A Summary of Recent Evidence," CEP Discussion Papers dp1226, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education

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