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Estimating the distributional effects of education reforms: A look at Project STAR

  • Jackson, Erika
  • Page, Marianne E.
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    Most evaluations of education policies focus on their mean impacts; when distributional effects are investigated it is usually by comparing mean impacts across demographic subgroups. We argue that such estimates may overlook important treatment effect heterogeneity; in order to appreciate the full extent of a policy's distributional impacts one should also exploit alternative methods. We demonstrate this using data from Project STAR, where we find evidence of substantial treatment effect heterogeneity across achievement quantiles. While all children appear to benefit from being placed in small classes, the largest test score gains are at the top of the achievement distribution. This result seems to be at odds with previous evidence that smaller classes benefit disadvantaged children most, but the discrepancy is reconciled by the fact that there are similar patterns of treatment effect heterogeneity within demographic groups, and that gains for disadvantaged students are larger throughout much of the achievement distribution.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272775712001033
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

    Volume (Year): 32 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 92-103

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:32:y:2013:i:c:p:92-103
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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    1. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2003. "What Mean Impacts Miss: Distributional Effects of Welfare Reform Experiments," Working Papers 109, RAND Corporation Publications Department.
    3. Marianne P. Bitler & Jonah B. Gelbach & Hilary W. Hoynes, 2005. "Distributional Impacts of the Self-Sufficiency Project," NBER Working Papers 11626, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Becker, William E. & Powers, John R., 2001. "Student performance, attrition, and class size given missing student data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 377-388, August.
    6. Datar, Ashlesha & Mason, Bryce, 2008. "Do reductions in class size "crowd out" parental investment in education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 712-723, December.
    7. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1996. "School Resources and Student Outcomes: An Overview of the Literature and New Evidence from North and South Carolina," NBER Working Papers 5708, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. Alan Krueger & Diane Whitmore, 1999. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," Working Papers 806, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    10. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
    11. Heckman, James J & Smith, Jeffrey, 1997. "Making the Most Out of Programme Evaluations and Social Experiments: Accounting for Heterogeneity in Programme Impacts," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(4), pages 487-535, October.
    12. Hanushek, Eric A, 1986. "The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public Schools," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 1141-77, September.
    13. Betts, Julian R, 1995. "Does School Quality Matter? Evidence from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(2), pages 231-50, May.
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