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Econometric Methods for Causal Evaluation of Education Policies and Practices: A Non-Technical Guide

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  • Schlotter, Martin

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

  • Schwerdt, Guido

    () (University of Konstanz)

  • Woessmann, Ludger

    () (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Abstract

Education policy-makers and practitioners want to know which policies and practices can best achieve their goals. But research that can inform evidence-based policy often requires complex methods to distinguish causation from accidental association. Avoiding econometric jargon and technical detail, this paper explains the main idea and intuition of leading empirical strategies devised to identify causal impacts and illustrates their use with real-world examples. It covers six evaluation methods: controlled experiments, lotteries of oversubscribed programs, instrumental variables, regression discontinuities, differences-in-differences, and panel-data techniques. Illustrating applications include evaluations of early-childhood interventions, voucher lotteries, funding programs for disadvantaged, and compulsory-school and tracking reforms.

Suggested Citation

  • Schlotter, Martin & Schwerdt, Guido & Woessmann, Ludger, 2010. "Econometric Methods for Causal Evaluation of Education Policies and Practices: A Non-Technical Guide," IZA Discussion Papers 4725, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4725
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    Cited by:

    1. Marc Piopiunik, 2011. "Microeconometric Analyses of Education Production in Germany," ifo Beiträge zur Wirtschaftsforschung, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 40, June.
    2. Bredtmann, Julia & Crede, Carsten J. & Otten, Sebastian, 2013. "Methods for evaluating educational programs: Does Writing Center Participation affect student achievement?," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 115-123.
    3. William Bosshardt & Peter E. Kennedy, 2011. "Data Resources and Econometric Techniques," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, chapter 35 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    4. Shaun M. Dougherty, 2015. "Bridging the Discontinuity in Adolescent Literacy? Mixed Evidence from a Middle Grades Intervention," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, vol. 10(2), pages 157-192, March.
    5. Cordero, José Manuel & Cristobal, Victor & Santín, Daniel, 2017. "Causal Inference on Education Policies: A Survey of Empirical Studies Using PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS," MPRA Paper 76295, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Cordero, José Manuel & Santín, Daniel & Sicilia, Gabriela, 2015. "Testing the accuracy of DEA estimates under endogeneity through a Monte Carlo simulation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 244(2), pages 511-518.
    7. Francisco Pedraja-Chaparro & Daniel Santín & Rosa Simancas, 2016. "The impact of immigrant concentration in schools on grade retention in Spain: a difference-in-differences approach," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(21), pages 1978-1990, May.
    8. Leonardo Bonilla Mejía & Luis Armando Galvis, 2011. "Profesionalización docente y la calidad de la educación escolar en Colombia," DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO SOBRE ECONOMÍA REGIONAL Y URBANA 009005, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ECONOMÍA REGIONAL.
    9. Paul Belleflamme & Julien Jacqmin, 2016. "An Economic Appraisal of MOOC Platforms: Business Models and Impacts on Higher Education," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 62(1), pages 148-169.
    10. Nina Czernich & Oliver Falck & Tobias Kretschmer & Ludger Wößmann, 2009. "Breitbandinfrastruktur und wissensbasiertes volkswirtschaftliches Wachstum," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 62(23), pages 29-34, December.
    11. Leonardo Bonilla Mejía & Luis Armando Galvis, 2012. "Profesionalización docente y calidad de la educación escolar en Colombia," ENSAYOS SOBRE POLÍTICA ECONÓMICA, BANCO DE LA REPÚBLICA - ESPE, vol. 30(68), pages 116-163, June.
    12. Eichhorst, Werner & Rodríguez-Planas, Núria & Schmidl, Ricarda & Zimmermann, Klaus F., 2012. "A Roadmap to Vocational Education and Training Systems Around the World," IZA Discussion Papers 7110, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Cordero, José Manuel & Gil, María & Pedraja Chaparro, Francisco, 2016. "Exploring the effect of financial literacy courses on student achievement: a cross-country approach using PISA 2012 data," MPRA Paper 75474, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation (EFI), Berlin (ed.), 2013. "Research, innovation and technological performance in Germany - EFI Report 2013," Research, Innovation and Technological Performance in Germany: Report, Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation (EFI) - Commission of Experts for Research and Innovation, Berlin, volume 127, number 2013e.
    15. Cordero, José Manuel & Santín, Daniel & Sicilia, Gabriela, 2013. "Dealing with the Endogeneity Problem in Data Envelopment Analysis," MPRA Paper 47475, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Keywords

    non-technical guide; causal effects; education; policy evaluation;

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • C01 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Econometrics

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