IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Class Size and Educational Policy: Who Benefits from Smaller Classes?


  • Esfandiar Maasoumi
  • Daniel Millimet
  • Vasudha Rangaprasad


The impact of class size on student achievement remains an open question despite hundreds of empirical studies and the perception among parents, teachers, and policymakers that larger classes are a significant detriment to student development. This study sheds new light on this ambiguity by utilizing nonparametric tests for stochastic dominance to analyze unconditional and conditional test score distributions across students facing different class sizes. Analyzing the conditional distributions of test scores (purged of observables using class-size specific returns), we find that there is little causal effect of marginal reductions in class size on test scores within the range of 20 or more students. However, reductions in class size from above 20 students to below 20 students, as well as marginal reductions in classes with fewer than 20 students, increase test scores for students below the median, but decrease test scores above the median. This nonuniform impact of class size suggests that compensatory school policies, whereby lower-performing students are placed in smaller classes and higher-performing students are placed in larger classes, improves the academic achievement of not just the lower-performing students but also the higher-performing students.

Suggested Citation

  • Esfandiar Maasoumi & Daniel Millimet & Vasudha Rangaprasad, 2005. "Class Size and Educational Policy: Who Benefits from Smaller Classes?," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 333-368.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:emetrv:v:24:y:2005:i:4:p:333-368 DOI: 10.1080/07474930500405485

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:bla:restud:v:57:y:1990:i:1:p:99-125 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Pedroni, Peter, 2004. "Panel Cointegration: Asymptotic And Finite Sample Properties Of Pooled Time Series Tests With An Application To The Ppp Hypothesis," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 20(03), pages 597-625, June.
    3. Moon, H.R.Hyungsik Roger & Perron, Benoit, 2004. "Testing for a unit root in panels with dynamic factors," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 122(1), pages 81-126, September.
    4. Hansen, Bruce E., 1992. "Efficient estimation and testing of cointegrating vectors in the presence of deterministic trends," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1-3), pages 87-121.
    5. Phillips, P.C.B., 1986. "Understanding spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 311-340, December.
    6. Phillips, P C B, 1987. "Time Series Regression with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 277-301, March.
    7. Kao, Chihwa, 1999. "Spurious regression and residual-based tests for cointegration in panel data," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 1-44, May.
    8. Im, Kyung So & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Shin, Yongcheol, 2003. "Testing for unit roots in heterogeneous panels," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 53-74, July.
    9. Pedroni, Peter, 1999. " Critical Values for Cointegration Tests in Heterogeneous Panels with Multiple Regressors," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 61(0), pages 653-670, Special I.
    10. Suzanne McCoskey & Chihwa Kao, 1998. "A residual-based test of the null of cointegration in panel data," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(1), pages 57-84.
    11. Peter C. B. Phillips & Hyungsik R. Moon, 1999. "Linear Regression Limit Theory for Nonstationary Panel Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(5), pages 1057-1112, September.
    12. Peter C. B. Phillips & Donggyu Sul, 2003. "Dynamic panel estimation and homogeneity testing under cross section dependence *," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 6(1), pages 217-259, June.
    13. Phillips, P C B, 1987. "Time Series Regression with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(2), pages 277-301, March.
    14. Peter C.B. Phillips & Victor Solo, 1989. "Asymptotics for Linear Processes," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 932, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    15. MacKinnon, James G, 1996. "Numerical Distribution Functions for Unit Root and Cointegration Tests," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 11(6), pages 601-618, Nov.-Dec..
    16. Phillips, Peter C B & Ouliaris, S, 1990. "Asymptotic Properties of Residual Based Tests for Cointegration," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(1), pages 165-193, January.
    17. Levin, Andrew & Lin, Chien-Fu & James Chu, Chia-Shang, 2002. "Unit root tests in panel data: asymptotic and finite-sample properties," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(1), pages 1-24, May.
    18. Breitung, Jorg, 2002. "Nonparametric tests for unit roots and cointegration," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 108(2), pages 343-363, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:exl:22evid:v:2014:y:2014:i:1:p:1-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Millimet, Daniel L. & Rangaprasad, Vasudha, 2007. "Strategic competition amongst public schools," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 199-219, March.
    3. Trevor Collier & Daniel Millimet, 2009. "Institutional arrangements in educational systems and student achievement: a cross-national analysis," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 329-381, October.
    4. Thomas Gall & Roland Amann, 2006. "How (not) to Choose Peers in Studying Groups," Working Papers 2006.79, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    5. Ozkan Eren & Daniel Millimet, 2007. "Time to learn? The organizational structure of schools and student achievement," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 32(2), pages 301-332, May.
    6. Ozkan Eren & Daniel J. Henderson, 2008. "The impact of homework on student achievement," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 11(2), pages 326-348, July.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:emetrv:v:24:y:2005:i:4:p:333-368. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.