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Urban density and pupil attainment

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  • Gibbons, Stephen
  • Silva, Olmo

Abstract

We explore the association between urban density and pupil attainment using three cohorts of pupils in schooling in England. Although – as widely recognised – attainment in dense urban places is low on average, this is not because urban environments disadvantage pupils, but because the most disadvantaged pupils with low average attainments attend the most urbanised schools. To control for this, we exploit changes in urban density faced by pupils during compulsory transition from Primary to Secondary school, and measure educational progress at the end of the Secondary phase, relative to attainments at the end of Primary schooling. Our results suggest that there are small but significant benefits from education in schools in more densely urbanised settings: Pupils in schools in relatively dense places – measured in terms of school density and other urban indicators – progress faster than others in their cohort, but the elasticity is low, at around 0.02. We detect this density advantage even amongst pupils moving relatively short distances between Primary and Secondary schools within urban areas, so we cannot attribute it to broad urbanisation effects experienced by pupils making rural-urban school moves. A more likely explanation lies in greater school choice and competition between closely co-located educational providers.

Suggested Citation

  • Gibbons, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2007. "Urban density and pupil attainment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19393, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:19393
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    Cited by:

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    2. Rebecca Allen & Anna Vignoles, 2016. "Can school competition improve standards? The case of faith schools in England," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 50(3), pages 959-973, May.
    3. Sørensen, Elise Stenholt & Høst, Anders Kamp, 2015. "Does distance determine who is in higher education?," MPRA Paper 74517, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. William C. Strange, 2009. "Viewpoint: Agglomeration research in the age of disaggregation," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 42(1), pages 1-27, February.
    5. Oliver Himmler, 2009. "The Effects of School Competition on Academic Achievement and Grading Standards," CESifo Working Paper Series 2676, CESifo.
    6. Marigee Bacolod & Bernardo S. Blum & William C. Strange, 2010. "Elements Of Skill: Traits, Intelligences, Education, And Agglomeration," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 245-280, February.
    7. Stephen Machin & Olmo Silva, 2013. "School Structure, School Autonomy and the Tail," CEP Special Papers 29, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    8. Buddin, Richard & Zamarro, Gema, 2009. "Teacher qualifications and student achievement in urban elementary schools," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 103-115, September.
    9. Stephen Gibbons & Olmo Silva & Felix Weinhardt, 2010. "Do Neighbours Affect Teenage Outcomes? Evidence from Neighbourhood Changes in England," SERC Discussion Papers 0063, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    10. Rose, Heather & Sonstelie, Jon, 2010. "School board politics, school district size, and the bargaining power of teachers' unions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(3), pages 438-450, May.
    11. Rebecca Allen, 2010. "Does school autonomy improve educational outcomes? Judging the performance of foundation secondary schools in England," DoQSS Working Papers 10-02, Quantitative Social Science - UCL Social Research Institute, University College London.
    12. K. Bruce Newbold & W. Mark Brown, 2015. "The Urban–Rural Gap In University Attendance: Determinants Of University Participation Among Canadian Youth," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(4), pages 585-608, September.
    13. Hashim, Ayesha K. & Strunk, Katharine O. & Marsh, Julie A., 2018. "The new school advantage? Examining the effects of strategic new school openings on student achievement," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 254-266.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Urban Density and Agglomeration; School Choice and Competition; Pupil Achievement;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • R20 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - General

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