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Are Measured School Effects Just Sorting? Identifying Causality in the National Education Longitudinal Survey

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  • Levine, David I.
  • Painter, Gary

Abstract

Youth sharing a school and neighborhoods often have similar academic achievement. This correlation between neighborhood quality and youth achievement holds even when controlling for many observable features of a family. Nevertheless, the correlation is not entirely causal because families and youth are sorted into relatively homogeneous groups. Thus, the quality of the school or neighborhood in part acts as a proxy for hard-to-measure attributes of the family. To enable separate estimation of sorting and school effects, we use the characteristics of the high school students will attend as an additional indicator of family background. When we compare youth who are at the same junior high school, the above measure is an appropriate instrument to identify family background separately from neighborhood and junior high school effects. Even after this correction, the point estimate of school effects on student achievement remains large and is statistically significant.

Suggested Citation

  • Levine, David I. & Painter, Gary, 2000. "Are Measured School Effects Just Sorting? Identifying Causality in the National Education Longitudinal Survey," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt88q510pj, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdl:indrel:qt88q510pj
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lawrence Katz & B. Jeffrey Liebman, 2000. "Moving to Opportunity in Boston: Early Results of a Randomized Mobility Experiment," Working Papers 820, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    2. repec:fth:prinin:441 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Daniel Aaronson, 1998. "Using Sibling Data to Estimate the Impact of Neighborhoods on Children's Educational Outcomes," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(4), pages 915-946.
    4. Lawrence F. Katz & Jeffrey R. Kling & Jeffrey B. Liebman, 2001. "Moving to Opportunity in Boston: Early Results of a Randomized Mobility Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 607-654.
    5. Katherine M. O'Regan & John M. Quigley, 1996. "Spatial effects upon employment outcomes: the case of New Jersey teenagers," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 41-64.
    6. Alejandro Gaviria & Steven Raphael, 2001. "School-Based Peer Effects And Juvenile Behavior," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 257-268, May.
    7. 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 1141-1177, September.
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