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Faith Primary Schools: Better Schools or Better Pupils?

Author

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  • Gibbons, Stephen

    () (London School of Economics)

  • Silva, Olmo

    () (London School of Economics)

Abstract

We provide estimates for the effect of attending a Faith school on educational achievement using a census of primary school pupils in England. We argue that there are no credible instruments for Faith school attendance in this context. Instead, we partially control for selection into religious schooling by tracking pupils over time and comparing attainments of students who exhibit different levels of commitment to religious education through their choice of secondary school and residence. Using this approach, we find only a small advantage from Faith primary schooling, worth about 1 percentile on age-11 test scores. Moreover, this is linked to autonomous admissions and governance arrangements, and not to religious character of the schools. We then go on to show that our estimates vary substantially across pupil subgroups that exhibit different levels of sorting on observable characteristics into Faith schooling, and provide bounds on what the 'Faith school effect' would be in the absence of sorting and selection. Pupils with a high degree of observable-sorting into Faith schools have an age-11 test score advantage of up to 2.7 percentiles. On the other hand, pupils showing a very low degree of sorting on observables have zero or negative gains. It appears that most of the apparent advantage of Faith school education in England can be explained by differences between the pupils who attend these schools and those who do not.

Suggested Citation

  • Gibbons, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2009. "Faith Primary Schools: Better Schools or Better Pupils?," IZA Discussion Papers 4089, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4089
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599.
    2. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
    3. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2002. "An Evaluation of Instrumental Variable Strategies for Estimating the Effects of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 9358, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Flavio Cunha & James J. Heckman, 2008. "Formulating, Identifying and Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
    5. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 8769.
    6. William N. Evans & Robert M. Schwab, 1995. "Finishing High School and Starting College: Do Catholic Schools Make a Difference?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(4), pages 941-974.
    7. Robert J. Barro & Rachel McCleary, 2003. "Religion and Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 9682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "An Evaluation of Instrumental Variable Strategies for Estimating the Effects of Catholic Schooling," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(4), pages 791-821.
    9. Rebecca Allen, 2007. "Allocating Pupils to Their Nearest Secondary School: The Consequences for Social and Ability Stratification," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(4), pages 751-770, April.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Studies consistently find no academic gains from private schooling, but don't explain why
      by Ian Brown, Head of School, School of Education at University of Wollongong in The Conversation on 2015-04-24 01:20:42

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Gibbons, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2008. "Urban density and pupil attainment," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 631-650, March.
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:137:y:2017:i:c:p:191-213 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Gihleb, Rania & Giuntella, Osea, 2017. "Nuns and the effects of catholic schools. Evidence from Vatican II," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 137(C), pages 191-213.
    4. Nghiem, Hong Son & Nguyen, Ha Trong & Khanam, Rasheda & Connelly, Luke B., 2015. "Does school type affect cognitive and non-cognitive development in children? Evidence from Australian primary schools," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 55-65.
    5. M. Niaz Asadullah, 2016. "The Effect Of Islamic Secondary School Attendance On Academic Achievement," The Singapore Economic Review (SER), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 61(04), pages 1-24, September.
    6. Figlio, D. & Karbownik, K. & Salvanes, K.G., 2016. "Education Research and Administrative Data," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
    7. repec:esr:resser:bkmnext221 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Gibbons, Stephen & Machin, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2013. "Valuing school quality using boundary discontinuity," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 45246, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    9. Andrew Eyles & Stephen Machin & Olmo Silva, 2017. "Academies 2: the new batch - the changing nature of academy schools in England," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 79988, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. Gibbons, Stephen & Machin, Stephen & Silva, Olmo, 2013. "Valuing school quality using boundary discontinuities," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 15-28.
    11. Stephen Machin & Olmo Silva, 2013. "School Structure, School Autonomy and the Tail," CEP Special Papers 29, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    faith school; pupil achievement; primary schools;

    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
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion

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