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Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Childhood Investments on Postsecondary Attainment and Degree Completion

Author

Listed:
  • Susan Dynarski
  • Joshua M. Hyman
  • Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of early childhood investments on college enrollment and degree completion. We use the random assignment in the Project STAR experiment to estimate the effect of smaller classes in primary school on college entry, college choice, and degree completion. We improve on existing work in this area with unusually detailed data on college enrollment spells and the previously unexplored outcome of college degree completion. We find that assignment to a small class increases the probability of attending college by 2.7 percentage points, with effects more than twice as large among blacks. Among students enrolled in the poorest third of schools, the effect is 7.3 percentage points. Smaller classes increase the likelihood of earning a college degree by 1.6 percentage points and shift students towards high-earning fields such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), business and economics. We find that test score effects at the time of the experiment are an excellent predictor of long-term improvements in postsecondary outcomes.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Dynarski & Joshua M. Hyman & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, 2011. "Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Childhood Investments on Postsecondary Attainment and Degree Completion," NBER Working Papers 17533, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17533 Note: CH ED LS PE
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sarah C. Fuller & Helen F. Ladd, 2013. "School-Based Accountability and the Distribution of Teacher Quality Across Grades in Elementary School," Education Finance and Policy, MIT Press, pages 528-559.
    2. Eric Bettinger & Oded Gurantz & Laura Kawano & Bruce Sacerdote, 2016. "The Long Run Impacts of Merit Aid: Evidence from California’s Cal Grant," NBER Working Papers 22347, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:68-85 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. DeCicca, Philip & Smith, Justin, 2013. "The long-run impacts of early childhood education: Evidence from a failed policy experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 41-59.
    5. Austin Nichols & Jesse Rothstein, 2015. "The Earned Income Tax Credit," NBER Chapters,in: Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, volume 1, pages 137-218 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Dynarski, Susan & Wiederspan, Mark, 2012. "Student Aid Simplification: Looking Back and Looking Ahead," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 65(1), pages 211-234, March.
    7. Gelber, Alexander & Isen, Adam, 2013. "Children's schooling and parents' behavior: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 25-38.
    8. Black, Sandra E. & Lincove, Jane & Cullinane, Jennifer & Veron, Rachel, 2015. "Can you leave high school behind?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 52-63.
    9. Hilary Hoynes & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Douglas Almond, 2016. "Long-Run Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 903-934.
    10. Matthew M. Chingos & Kenneth A. Couch, 2013. "Class Size and Student Outcomes: Research and Policy Implications," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(2), pages 411-438, March.
    11. Székely,Miguel & Karver,Jonathan George, 2015. "Youth out of school and out of work in Latin America : a cohort approach," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7421, The World Bank.
    12. Chingos, Matthew M. & Peterson, Paul E., 2015. "Experimentally estimated impacts of school vouchers on college enrollment and degree attainment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 1-12.
    13. Atila Abdulkadiroglu & Parag A. Pathak & Jonathan Schellenberg & Christopher R. Walters, 2017. "Do Parents Value School Effectiveness?," NBER Working Papers 23912, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2011. "The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood," NBER Working Papers 17699, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Gershenson, Seth & Hart, Cassandra M. D. & Lindsay, Constance A. & Papageorge, Nicholas W., 2017. "The Long-Run Impacts of Same-Race Teachers," IZA Discussion Papers 10630, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Bernal, Pedro & Mittag, Nikolas & Qureshi, Javaeria A., 2016. "Estimating effects of school quality using multiple proxies," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 1-10.
    17. Jeffrey T. Denning & Benjamin M. Marx & Lesley J. Turner, 2017. "ProPelled: The Effects of Grants on Graduation, Earnings, and Welfare," Upjohn Working Papers and Journal Articles 17-280, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    18. Susan M. Dynarski & Steven W. Hemelt & Joshua M. Hyman, 2013. "The Missing Manual: Using National Student Clearinghouse Data to Track Postsecondary Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 19552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Arteaga, Irma & Humpage, Sarah & Reynolds, Arthur J. & Temple, Judy A., 2014. "One year of preschool or two: Is it important for adult outcomes?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 221-237.
    20. Alexander M. Gelber & Adam Isen, 2011. "Children's Schooling and Parents' Investment in Children: Evidence from the Head Start Impact Study," NBER Working Papers 17704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. repec:tpr:edfpol:v:12:y:2017:i:3:p:281-311 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Torberg Falch & Astrid Marie Jorde Sandsør & Bjarne Strøm, 2015. "Do smaller classes always improve students' long run outcomes?," Working Paper Series 16415, Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
    23. Graham McKee & Katharine Sims & Steven Rivkin, 2015. "Disruption, learning, and the heterogeneous benefits of smaller classes," Empirical Economics, Springer, pages 1267-1286.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • 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

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