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How does education improve cognitive skills? Instructional time versus timing of instruction

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  • Dahmann, Sarah C.

Abstract

This paper investigates two mechanisms through which education may affect cognitive skills in adolescence, exploiting a school reform carried out at the state level in Germany as a quasi-natural experiment to identify causal effects: between 2001 and 2007, years at academic-track high school were reduced by one, leaving the overall curriculum unchanged. First, I exploit the variation over time and across states to identify the effect of an increase in class hours on same-aged students' intelligence scores, using data on seventeen year-olds from the German Socio-Economic Panel. Second, I investigate the influence of earlier instruction at younger ages, using data from the German National Educational Panel Study on high school graduates' competences. The results show that, on average, neither instructional time nor age-distinct timing of instruction significantly improves students' crystallized cognitive skills in adolescence. Yet, there is suggestive evidence that increasing instructional time may benefit male students exacerbating gender differences in numeracy.

Suggested Citation

  • Dahmann, Sarah C., 2017. "How does education improve cognitive skills? Instructional time versus timing of instruction," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 35-47.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:47:y:2017:i:c:p:35-47
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2017.04.008
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    Cited by:

    1. Quis, Johanna Sophie & Reif, Simon, 2017. "Health effects of instruction intensity: Evidence from a natural experiment in German high-schools," BERG Working Paper Series 123, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    2. Huebener, Mathias & Marcus, Jan, 2017. "Compressing instruction time into fewer years of schooling and the impact on student performance," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, pages 1-14.
    3. Sebastian Vollmer & Juditha Wójcik, 2017. "The Long-term Consequences of the Global 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Systematic Analysis of 117 IPUMS International Census Data Sets," CINCH Working Paper Series 1708, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    4. Hofmann, Sarah & Mühlenweg, Andrea, 2018. "Learning intensity effects in students’ mental and physical health – Evidence from a large scale natural experiment in Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 216-234.
    5. Yu Aoki & Lualhati Santiago, 2015. "Fertility, Health and Education of UK Immigrants: The Role of English Language Skills," CINCH Working Paper Series 1510, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2015.
    6. Huebener, Mathias & Kuger, Susanne & Marcus, Jan, 2017. "Increased instruction hours and the widening gap in student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 15-34.
    7. Camarero Garcia, Sebastian, 2018. "Inequality of educational opportunities and the role of learning intensity: Evidence from a quasi-experiment in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 18-021, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    8. Kronenberg, Christoph, 2020. "New(spaper) Evidence of a Reduction in Suicide Mentions during the 19th‐century US Gold Rush," CINCH Working Paper Series (since 2020) 73382, Duisburg-Essen University Library, DuEPublico Provider-Homepage: https://cinch.uni-due.de/.
    9. Bingley, Paul & Heinesen, Eskil & Krassel, Karl Fritjof & Kristensen, Nicolai, 2018. "The Timing of Instruction Time: Accumulated Hours, Timing and Pupil Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 11807, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Mühlemann, Samuel & Pfann, Gerard A. & Pfeifer, Harald & Dietrich, Hans, 2018. "The Effects of Supply Shocks in the Market for Apprenticeships: Evidence from a German High School Reform," IZA Discussion Papers 11264, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Govert E. Bijwaard & Andrew M. Jones, 2019. "An IPW estimator for mediation effects in hazard models: with an application to schooling, cognitive ability and mortality," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 57(1), pages 129-175, July.
    12. Carbone, Jared C. & Kverndokk, Snorre, 2014. "Individual investments in education and health," HERO Online Working Paper Series 2014:1, University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme.
    13. Dietrich, Hans & Muehlemann, Samuel & Pfann, Gerard Antonie & Pfeifer, Harald, 2018. "Supply Shocks in the Market for Apprenticeships: Evidence from a German High School Reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 12669, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Marcus, Jan & Reif, Simon & Wuppermann, Amelie & Rouche, Amélie, 2020. "Increased instruction time and stress-related health problems among school children," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    15. Clarke, Damian & Mühlrad, Hanna, 2016. "The Impact of Abortion Legalization on Fertility and Maternal Mortality: New Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers in Economics 661, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    16. Muehlemann, Samuel & Pfann, Gerard & Pfeifer, Harald & Dietrich, Hans, 2020. "Supply shocks in the market for apprenticeship training," ROA Research Memorandum 013, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
    17. Michael Doersam & Verena Lauber, 2019. "The Effect of a Compressed High School Curriculum on University Performance," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2019-03, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
    18. Dörsam, Michael & Lauber, Verena, 2015. "The Effect of a Compressed High School Curriculum on University Performance," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 140876, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    19. Elizabeth Lemmon, 2018. "Utilisation of personal care services in Scotland: the influence of unpaid carers," CINCH Working Paper Series 1802, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    20. Anselme Simeon Sanou & Abdoulaye Hama Diallo & Penny Holding & Victoria Nankabirwa & Ingunn Marie S Engebretsen & Grace Ndeezi & James K Tumwine & Nicolas Meda & Thorkild Tylleskar & Esperance Kashala, 2018. "Effects of schooling on aspects of attention in rural Burkina Faso, West Africa," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 13(9), pages 1-16, September.
    21. Ryu, Hanbyul & Helfand, Steven M. & Moreira, Roni Barbosa, 2020. "Starting early and staying longer: The effects of a Brazilian primary schooling reform on student performance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 130(C).
    22. Samuel Muehlemann & Gerard Pfann & Harald Pfeifer & Hans Dietrich, 2018. "Supply Shocks in the Market for Apprenticeship Training," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0143, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW), revised Oct 2020.
    23. Muehlemann, Samuel & Pfann, Gerard & Pfeifer, Harald & Dietrich, Hans, 2020. "Supply shocks in the market for apprenticeship training," Research Memorandum 036, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cognitive skills; Crystallized intelligence; Fluid intelligence; Skill formation; Education; High school reform; Gender skill gap;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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