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Causality, causality, causality: the view of education inputs and outputs from economics

  • Lisa Barrow
  • Cecilia Elena Rouse

Educators and policy makers are increasingly intent on using scientifically-based evidence when making decisions about education policy. Thus, education research today must necessarily be focused on identifying the causal relationships between education inputs and student outcomes. In this paper we discuss methodologies for estimating the causal effect of resources on education outcomes; we also review what we believe to be the best evidence from economics on a few important inputs: spending, class size, teacher quality, the length of the school year, and technology. We conclude that while the number of papers using credible identification strategies is thin, the body of credible research on causal relationships is growing, and we have started to gather evidence that some school inputs matter while others do not.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-05-15.

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Date of creation: 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-05-15
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  1. Pischke, Jörn-Steffen, 2003. "The Impact of Length of the School Year on Student Performance and Earnings: Evidence from the German Short School Years," CEPR Discussion Papers 4074, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
  3. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  4. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2004. "Remedial Education and Student Achievement: A Regression-Discontinuity Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(1), pages 226-244, February.
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  6. Card, David & Krueger, Alan B, 1992. "Does School Quality Matter? Returns to Education and the Characteristics of Public Schools in the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(1), pages 1-40, February.
  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 1141-77, September.
  8. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2006. "Teacher-Student Matching and the Assessment of Teacher Effectiveness," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
  9. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2002. "New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 735-765, October.
  10. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1998. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 6691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  12. Rouse, Cecilia Elena & Krueger, Alan B., 2004. "Putting computerized instruction to the test: a randomized evaluation of a "scientifically based" reading program," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 323-338, August.
  13. Eric A. Hanushek, 1996. "Measuring Investment in Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 9-30, Fall.
  14. Summers, Anita A & Wolfe, Barbara L, 1977. "Do Schools Make a Difference?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(4), pages 639-52, September.
  15. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Lisa Barrow & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2000. "Using market valuation to assess the importance and efficiency of public school spending," Working Paper Series WP-00-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  17. Joshua D. Angrist, 2004. "American Education Research Changes Tack," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(2), pages 198-212, Summer.
  18. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2004. "The Impact of Teacher Training on Student Achievement: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from School Reform Efforts in Chicago," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 39(1).
  19. Alan B. Krueger, 2002. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," NBER Working Papers 8875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Alan Krueger & Diane Whitmore, 1999. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," Working Papers 806, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  21. Smith, James P & Welch, Finis R, 1989. "Black Economic Progress after Myrdal," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 519-64, June.
  22. Berrara, A., 1989. "The Interactive Effects Of Mother'S Schooling And Unsupplemented Breastfeeding On Child Health," Papers 572, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  23. Boozer, Michael & Rouse, Cecilia, 2001. "Intraschool Variation in Class Size: Patterns and Implications," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 163-189, July.
  24. George E. Johnson & Frank P. Stafford, 1973. "Social Returns to Quantity and Quality of Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(2), pages 139-155.
  25. Hanushek, E.A.omson, W., 1996. "Assessing the Effects of School Resources on Student Performance : An Update," RCER Working Papers 424, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
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