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Selective Schools


  • Brunello, Giorgio

    () (University of Padova)

  • Giannini, Massimo

    () (University of Molise)


This paper studies how schooling admission tests affect economic performance in an economy where individuals are endowed with both academic and non academic abilities and both abilities matter for labor productivity. We develop a simple model with selective government held schools, where individuals signal their abilities by taking an admission test that sorts them into different schools. When abilities are poorly correlated in the population, as documented in the literature, a standard test based only on academic abilities is expected to be less efficient than a more balanced test, that considers both ability types. Contrary to this expectation, we show that this is not generally true, but depends both on the distribution of abilities in the population and on the marginal contribution of each ability type to individual productivity. It is also not generally true that the outcome of a more balanced test can be replicated by a sequential testing strategy, with government held schools testing academic abilities and firms testing non academic abilities on the sub-sample of graduates of elite schools.

Suggested Citation

  • Brunello, Giorgio & Giannini, Massimo, 1999. "Selective Schools," IZA Discussion Papers 76, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp76

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Giorgio Brunello & Massimo Giannini, 2004. "Stratified or Comprehensive? The Economic Efficiency of School Design," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(2), pages 173-193, May.
    2. Volker Meier, 2000. "Choosing Between School Systems," CESifo Working Paper Series 389, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item


    admission tests; Education;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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