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The Causal Effect of Studying on Academic Performance

  • Todd R. Stinebrickner
  • Ralph Stinebrickner

Despite the large amount of attention that has been paid recently to understanding the determinants of educational outcomes, knowledge of the causal effect of the most fundamental input in the education production function - students' study time and effort - has remained virtually non-existent. In this paper, we examine the causal effect of studying on grade performance using an Instrumental Variable estimator. Our approach takes advantage of a unique natural experiment and is possible because we have collected unique longitudinal data that provides detailed information about all aspects of this experiment. Important for understanding the potential impact of a wide array of education policies, the results suggest that human capital accumulation is far from predetermined at the time of college entrance.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 13341.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Stinebrickner Ralph & Stinebrickner Todd R., 2008. "The Causal Effect of Studying on Academic Performance," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-55, June.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13341
Note: ED
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  1. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Daniel R. Sherman, 1987. "Employment While in College, Academic Achievement, and Postcollege Outcomes: A Summary of Results," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 22(1), pages 1-23.
  2. Stinebrickner, Ralph & Stinebrickner, Todd R., 2006. "What can be learned about peer effects using college roommates? Evidence from new survey data and students from disadvantaged backgrounds," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1435-1454, September.
  3. Julie Berry Cullen & Brian A. Jacob & Steven Levitt, 2003. "The Effect of School Choice on Student Outcomes: Evidence from Randomized Lotteries," NBER Working Papers 10113, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd R. Stinebrickner, 2003. "Working during School and Academic Performance," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 449-472, April.
  5. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2000. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," NBER Working Papers 7831, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2001. "Time Use and College Outcomes," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20012, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  7. Ruhm, Christopher J, 1997. "Is High School Employment Consumption or Investment?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(4), pages 735-76, October.
  8. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2007. "The Effect of Credit Constraints on the College Drop-Out Decision A Direct Approach Using a New Panel Study," NBER Working Papers 13340, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Heckman, James J & Lochner, Lance & Taber, Christopher, 1998. "Tax Policy and Human-Capital Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 293-97, May.
  10. Michael Kremer & Dan M. Levy, 2003. "Peer Effects and Alcohol Use Among College Students," NBER Working Papers 9876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Kinal, Terrence W, 1980. "The Existence of Moments of k-Class Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 241-49, January.
  12. Joseph G. Altonji & Ching-I Huang & Christopher R. Taber, 2010. "Estimating the Cream Skimming Effect of School Choice," NBER Working Papers 16579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
  14. Black, Dan A. & Smith, J.A.Jeffrey A., 2004. "How robust is the evidence on the effects of college quality? Evidence from matching," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 99-124.
  15. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 1998. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," NBER Working Papers 6691, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects With Random Assignment: Results For Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704, May.
  17. Dan A. Black & Jeffrey A. Smith, 2006. "Estimating the Returns to College Quality with Multiple Proxies for Quality," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 701-728, July.
  18. Becker, William E, Jr, 1982. "The Educational Process and Student Achievement Given Uncertainty in Measurement," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 229-36, March.
  19. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "Does high school employment affect high school academic performance?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 53(1), pages 136-151, October.
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