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Education Reform in General Equilibrium: Evidence from California’s Class Size Reduction

Author

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  • Mike Gilraine
  • Hugh Macartney
  • Rob McMillan

Abstract

This paper sheds new light on general equilibrium responses to major education reforms, focusing on a sorting mechanism likely to operate whenever a reform improves public school quality significantly. It does so in the context of California’s statewide class size reduction program of the late-1990s, and makes two main contributions. First, using a transparent differencing strategy that exploits the grade-specific roll-out of the reform, we show evidence of general equilibrium sorting effects: Improvements in public school quality caused marked reductions in local private school shares, consequent changes in public school demographics, and significant increases in local house prices – the latter indicative of the reform’s full impact. Second, using a generalization of the differencing approach, we provide credible estimates of the direct and indirect impacts of the reform on a common scale. These reveal a large pure class size effect of 0.11σ (in terms of mathematics scores), and an even larger indirect effect of 0.16σ via induced changes in school demographics. Further, we show that both effects persist positively, giving rise to an overall policy impact estimated to be 0.4σ higher after four years of treatment (relative to none). The analysis draws attention, more broadly, to conditions under which the indirect sorting effects of major reforms are likely to be first order.

Suggested Citation

  • Mike Gilraine & Hugh Macartney & Rob McMillan, 2018. "Education Reform in General Equilibrium: Evidence from California’s Class Size Reduction," Working Papers tecipa-594, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-594
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    File URL: https://www.economics.utoronto.ca/public/workingPapers/tecipa-594.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Nathaniel Hilger & Emmanuel Saez & Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach & Danny Yagan, 2011. "How Does Your Kindergarten Classroom Affect Your Earnings? Evidence from Project Star," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(4), pages 1593-1660.
    2. 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.
    3. Nicola Bianchi, 2015. "The General Effects of Educational Expansion," Discussion Papers 15-008, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    4. Raj Chetty & John N. Friedman & Jonah E. Rockoff, 2014. "Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(9), pages 2633-2679, September.
    5. Fernanda Estevan, 2015. "Public education expenditures and private school enrollment," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 48(2), pages 561-584, May.
    6. Imberman, Scott A. & Lovenheim, Michael F., 2016. "Does the market value value-added? Evidence from housing prices after a public release of school and teacher value-added," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 104-121.
    7. Christopher Jepsen & Steven Rivkin, 2009. "Class Size Reduction and Student Achievement: The Potential Tradeoff between Teacher Quality and Class Size," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    8. repec:hrv:faseco:30749606 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Krueger, Alan B & Whitmore, Diane M, 2001. "The Effect of Attending a Small Class in the Early Grades on College-Test Taking and Middle School Test Results: Evidence from Project STAR," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 1-28, January.
    10. Dobbelsteen, Simone & Levin, Jesse & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 2002. " The Causal Effect of Class Size on Scholastic Achievement: Distinguishing the Pure Class Size Effect from the Effect of Changes in Class Composition," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 64(1), pages 17-38, February.
    11. Cho, Hyunkuk & Glewwe, Paul & Whitler, Melissa, 2012. "Do reductions in class size raise students’ test scores? Evidence from population variation in Minnesota's elementary schools," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 77-95.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Education Reform; General Equilibrium; Education Production; Sorting; Class Size Reduction; Persistence; Difference-in-Differences; Triple Differences;

    JEL classification:

    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid

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