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The Long-term Effects of School Quality on Labor Market Outcomes and Educational Attainment

  • Christian Dustmann


    (University College London)

  • Patrick A. Puhani


    (Leibniz Universität Hannover)

  • Uta Schönberg


    (University College London, Institute for Employment Research (IAB))

We study the long-term causal effects of attending a "better" school - defined as one with more advanced peers, more highly paid teachers, and a more academic curriculum - on the highest degree completed, wages, occupational choice, and unemployment. We base our analysis on a regression discontinuity design, generated by a school entry age rule, that assigns students to different types of schools based on their date of birth. We find that, even though our case involves larger inter-school differences in peer quality and teaching curricula than in most previous studies, the long-term effect of school quality is very small and not significantly different from zero. This surprising finding is partly explainable by the substantial amount of student up- and downgrading between schools of varying quality at the end of middle school (age 15/16) and at the end of high school (age 18/19). This suggests that giving people a "second chance" during their education can make up for several years of schooling with a less challenging peer group and a less challenging teaching curriculum.

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Paper provided by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London in its series CReAM Discussion Paper Series with number 1208.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:crm:wpaper:1208
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  1. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2010. "Under Pressure? The Effect of Peers on Outcomes of Young Adults," NBER Working Papers 16004, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2008. "School Tracking and Access to Higher Education Among Disadvantaged Groups," Working Papers 0810, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  3. Puhani, Patrick A. & Weber, Andrea Maria, 2005. "Does the early bird catch the worm? Instrumental variable estimates of educational effects of age of school entry in Germany," Darmstadt Discussion Papers in Economics 151, Darmstadt University of Technology, Department of Law and Economics.
  4. Elizabeth Cascio & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2007. "First in the Class? Age and the Education Production Function," NBER Working Papers 13663, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Ammermüller, Andreas & Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2006. "Peer Effects in European Primary Schools: Evidence from PIRLS," ZEW Discussion Papers 06-27, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  6. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2011. "The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood," NBER Working Papers 17699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Duflo, Esther & Dupas, Pascaline & Kremer, Michael, 2008. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," CEPR Discussion Papers 7043, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Gould, Eric D & Lavy, Victor & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2003. "Immigrating to Opportunity: Estimating the Effect of School Quality Using a Natural Experiment on Ethiopians in Israel," CEPR Discussion Papers 4052, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Fredriksson, Peter & Öckert, Björn, 2006. "Is early learning really more productive? The effect of school starting age on school and labor market performance," Working Paper Series 2006:12, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
  10. C. Kirabo Jackson, 2010. "Do Students Benefit from Attending Better Schools? Evidence from Rule-based Student Assignments in Trinidad and Tobago," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(549), pages 1399-1429, December.
  11. Puhani, Patrick A. & Weber, Andrea M., 2007. "Persistence of the School Entry Age Effect in a System of Flexible Tracking," Hannover Economic Papers (HEP) dp-370, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  12. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Jesse Rothstein, 2008. "Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement," NBER Working Papers 14442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Cristian Pop-Eleches & Miguel Urquiola, 2013. "Going to a Better School: Effects and Behavioral Responses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1289-1324, June.
  15. Kasey Buckles & Daniel M. Hungerman, 2008. "Season of Birth and Later Outcomes: Old Questions, New Answers," NBER Working Papers 14573, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Atsushi Inoue & Gary Solon, 2010. "Two-Sample Instrumental Variables Estimators," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(3), pages 557-561, August.
  17. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2011. "Too Young to Leave the Nest? The Effects of School Starting Age," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 455-467, May.
  18. Atila Abdulkadiroğlu & Joshua Angrist & Parag Pathak, 2014. "The Elite Illusion: Achievement Effects at Boston and New York Exam Schools," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(1), pages 137-196, 01.
  19. Eric Maurin & Sandra McNally, 2007. "Educational Effects of Widening Access to the Academic Track: A Natural Experiment," CEE Discussion Papers 0085, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  20. repec:oup:qjecon:v:126:y:2011:i:4:p:1593-1660 is not listed on IDEAS
  21. Dustmann, Christian & Ludsteck, Johannes & Schönberg, Uta, 2007. "Revisiting the German Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 2685, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:4:p:1437-1472 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Chetty, Raj & Friedman, John Norton & Hilger, Nathanial & Saez, Emmanuel & Schanzenbach, Dianne Whitmore & Yagan, Danny, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," Scholarly Articles 9639983, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  24. Victor Lavy & Analía Schlosser, 2007. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," NBER Working Papers 13292, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Caroline M. Hoxby & Sonali Murarka, 2009. "Charter Schools in New York City: Who Enrolls and How They Affect Their Students' Achievement," NBER Working Papers 14852, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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