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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. repec:eee:labeco:v:47:y:2017:i:c:p:15-34 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. repec:zbw:espost:162940 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. 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.
    8. Jan Marcus & Simon Reif & Amelie Wuppermann & Amélie Rouche, 2019. "Increased Instruction Time and Stress-Related Health Problems among School Children," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1802, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    9. 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.
    10. Damian Clarke & Hanna Mühlrad, 2016. "The Impact of Abortion Legalization on Fertility and Maternal Mortality: New Evidence from Mexico," CINCH Working Paper Series 1602, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Feb 2016.
    11. Dörsam, Michael & Lauber, Verena, 2015. "The Effect of a Compressed High School Curriculum on University Performance," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 140876, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    12. 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).
    13. 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).
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS

    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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