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

  • Fredriksson, Peter

    ()

    (Stockholm University)

  • Öckert, Björn

    ()

    (IFAU)

  • Oosterbeek, Hessel

    ()

    (University of Amsterdam)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8019.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8019
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  1. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Educational Production," NBER Working Papers 7349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Miguel Urquiola & Eric Verhoogen, 2007. "Class Size and Sorting in Market Equilibrium: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 13303, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
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  7. 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.
  8. David S. Lee & David Card, 2006. "Regression Discontinuity Inference with Specification Error," NBER Technical Working Papers 0322, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Alan B. Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," NBER Working Papers 6051, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. 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, 06.
  12. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 2001. "Disruption versus Tiebout Improvement: The Costs and Benefits of Switching Schools," NBER Working Papers 8479, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. Jishnu Das & Stefan Dercon & James Habyarimana & Pramila Krishnan & Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2011. "School Inputs, Household Substitution, and Test Scores," NBER Working Papers 16830, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Cristian Pop-Eleches & Miguel Urquiola, 2013. "Going to a Better School: Effects and Behavioral Responses," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1289-1324, June.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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