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Inside the Black Box of Class Size: Mechanisms, Behavioral Responses, and Social Background

Author

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  • Fredriksson, Peter

    () (Stockholm University)

  • Öckert, Björn

    () (IFAU)

  • Oosterbeek, Hessel

    () (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

Studies on the effect of class size on student achievement typically find that disadvantaged students benefit more from reduced class size than others. To better understand this differential impact, we analyze changes in the learning environment due to class size, and behavioral responses to class size among parents, schools, teachers and students. The variation in class size is induced by a maximum class size rule applying to upper primary schools in Sweden. We find that in response to an increase in class size: i) teachers seem to assign more responsibility to students; ii) low-income students find their teachers hard to follow when taught in full-class iii) high-income parents help their children more with homework; iv) parents are more likely to change schools; and v) other school inputs and student effort adjust very little. These findings help explain why we find that the negative effect of class size on achievement in our data is concentrated among low-income students.

Suggested Citation

  • Fredriksson, Peter & Öckert, Björn & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 2014. "Inside the Black Box of Class Size: Mechanisms, Behavioral Responses, and Social Background," IZA Discussion Papers 8019, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8019
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532.
    2. Peter Fredriksson & Björn Öckert & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2013. "Long-Term Effects of Class Size," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 249-285.
    3. Eskil Heinesen, 2010. "Estimating Class-size Effects using Within-school Variation in Subject-specific Classes," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(545), pages 737-760, June.
    4. Miguel Urquiola & Eric Verhoogen, 2009. "Class-Size Caps, Sorting, and the Regression-Discontinuity Design," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 179-215, March.
    5. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects of Class Size on Student Achievement: New Evidence from Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285.
    6. Albornoz-Crespo, Facundo & Berlinski, Samuel & Cabrales, Antonio, 2010. "Incentives, resources and the organization of the school system," CEPR Discussion Papers 7964, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-1774, August.
    8. Miguel Urquiola, 2006. "Identifying Class Size Effects in Developing Countries: Evidence from Rural Bolivia," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(1), pages 171-177, February.
    9. Jishnu Das & Stefan Dercon & James Habyarimana & Pramila Krishnan & Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2013. "School Inputs, Household Substitution, and Test Scores," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 29-57, April.
    10. Gelber, Alexander & Isen, Adam, 2013. "Children's schooling and parents' behavior: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 25-38.
    11. Datar, Ashlesha & Mason, Bryce, 2008. "Do reductions in class size "crowd out" parental investment in education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 712-723, December.
    12. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
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    16. Hanushek, Eric A. & Kain, John F. & Rivkin, Steven G., 2004. "Disruption versus Tiebout improvement: the costs and benefits of switching schools," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1721-1746, August.
    17. Andrew J. Houtenville & Karen Smith Conway, 2008. "Parental Effort, School Resources, and Student Achievement," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(2), pages 437-453.
    18. David Sims, 2008. "A strategic response to class size reduction: Combination classes and student achievement in California," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(3), pages 457-478.
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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Fredriksson & Björn Öckert & Hessel Oosterbeek, 2016. "Parental Responses to Public Investments in Children: Evidence from a Maximum Class Size Rule," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 51(4), pages 832-868.
    2. Miguel Urquiola, 2015. "Progress and challenges in achieving an evidence-based education policy in Latin America and the Caribbean," Latin American Economic Review, Springer;Centro de Investigaciòn y Docencia Económica (CIDE), vol. 24(1), pages 1-30, December.
    3. Leuven, Edwin & Løkken, Sturla Andreas, 2017. "Long Term Impacts of Class Size in Compulsory School," IZA Discussion Papers 10594, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    heterogenous effects; social background; class size; regression discontinuity;

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • 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

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