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In a Small Moment: Class Size and Moral Hazard in the Mezzogiorno

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  • Joshua D. Angrist
  • Erich Battistin
  • Daniela Vuri

Abstract

An Instrumental Variables (IV) identication strategy that exploits statutory class size caps shows signficant achievement gains in smaller classes in Italian primary schools. Gains from small classes are driven mainly by schools in Southern Italy, suggesting a substantial return to class size reductions for residents of the Mezzogiorno. In addition to high unemployment and other social problems, however, the Mezzogiorno is distinguished by pervasive manipulation of standardized test scores, a finding revealed in a natural experiment that randomly assigned school monitors. IV estimates also show that small classes increase score manipulation. Estimates of a causal model for achievement with two endogenous variables, class size and score manipulation, suggest that the effects of class size on measured achievement are driven entirely by the relationship between class size and manipulation. Dishonest scoring appears to be a consequence of teacher shirking more than teacher cheating. These findings show how consequential score manipulation can arise even in assessment systems with few NCLB-style accountability concerns.

Suggested Citation

  • Joshua D. Angrist & Erich Battistin & Daniela Vuri, 2014. "In a Small Moment: Class Size and Moral Hazard in the Mezzogiorno," FBK-IRVAPP Working Papers 2014-04, Research Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policies (IRVAPP), Bruno Kessler Foundation.
  • Handle: RePEc:fbk:wpaper:2014-04
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    Cited by:

    1. Battistin, Erich & De Nadai, Michele & Vuri, Daniela, 2017. "Counting rotten apples: Student achievement and score manipulation in Italian elementary Schools," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 200(2), pages 344-362.
    2. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:32-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Battistin, Erich & Meroni, Elena Claudia, 2016. "Should we increase instruction time in low achieving schools? Evidence from Southern Italy," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 39-56.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Class Size Effects; Score Manipulation; Quasi-experimental methods; Test scores;

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • 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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