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How does education improve cognitive skills? Instructional Time versus Timing of Instruction

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  • Dahmann, Sarah

Abstract

This paper investigates two mechanisms through which education may affect cognitive skills in adolescence: the role of instructional quantity and the timing of instruction with respect to age. To identify causal effects, I exploit a school reform carried out at the state level in Germany as a quasi-natural experiment: between 2001 and 2007, academic-track high school (Gymnasium) was reduced by one year in most of Germany's federal states, leaving the overall curriculum unchanged. To investigate the impact of this educational change on students' cognitive abilities, I conduct two separate analyses: first, I exploit the variation in the curriculum taught to same-aged students at academic-track high school over time and across states to identify the effect of the increase in instructional time on students' crystallized and fluid intelligence scores. Using rich data on seventeen year-old adolescents from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) study, the estimates show that fluid intelligence remained unaffected, while crystallized intelligence improved for male students. Second, I compare students' competences in their final year of high school using data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS). Preliminary results suggest that students affected by the reform catch up with their non-affected counterparts in terms of their competences by the time of graduation. However, they do not provide any evidence for the timing of instruction to matter in cognitive skill formation. Overall, secondary education therefore seems to impact students' cognitive skills in adolescence especially through instructional time and not so much through age-distinct timing of instruction.

Suggested Citation

  • Dahmann, Sarah, 2015. "How does education improve cognitive skills? Instructional Time versus Timing of Instruction," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 112917, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc15:112917
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    Cited by:

    1. Quis, Johanna Sophie & Reif, Simon, 2017. "Health effects of instruction intensity: Evidence from a natural experiment in German high-schools," BERG Working Paper Series 123, Bamberg University, Bamberg Economic Research Group.
    2. Sebastian Vollmer & Juditha Wójcik, 2017. "The Long-term Consequences of the Global 1918 Influenza Pandemic: A Systematic Analysis of 117 IPUMS International Census Data Sets," CINCH Working Paper Series 1708, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.
    3. Hofmann, Sarah & Mühlenweg, Andrea, 2018. "Learning intensity effects in students’ mental and physical health – Evidence from a large scale natural experiment in Germany," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 216-234.
    4. Yu Aoki & Lualhati Santiago, 2015. "Fertility, Health and Education of UK Immigrants: The Role of English Language Skills," CINCH Working Paper Series 1510, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Aug 2015.
    5. Huebener, Mathias & Kuger, Susanne & Marcus, Jan, 2017. "Increased instruction hours and the widening gap in student performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 15-34.
    6. Camarero Garcia, Sebastian, 2018. "Inequality of educational opportunities and the role of learning intensity: Evidence from a quasi-experiment in Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 18-021, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    7. repec:zbw:espost:162940 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Bingley, Paul & Heinesen, Eskil & Krassel, Karl Fritjof & Kristensen, Nicolai, 2018. "The Timing of Instruction Time: Accumulated Hours, Timing and Pupil Achievement," IZA Discussion Papers 11807, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Samuel Muehlemann & Gerard Pfann & Harald Pfeifer & Hans Dietrich, 2018. "The Effects of Supply Shocks in the Market for Apprenticeships: Evidence from a German High School Reform," Economics of Education Working Paper Series 0143, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    10. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:58:y:2017:i:c:p:1-14 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Carbone, Jared C. & Kverndokk, Snorre, 2014. "Individual investments in education and health," HERO Online Working Paper Series 2014:1, University of Oslo, Health Economics Research Programme.
    12. Dietrich, Hans & Muehlemann, Samuel & Pfann, Gerard Antonie & Pfeifer, Harald, 2018. "Supply Shocks in the Market for Apprenticeships: Evidence from a German High School Reform," CEPR Discussion Papers 12669, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Jan Marcus & Simon Reif & Amelie C. Wuppermann & Amélie Rouche, 2019. "Increased instruction time and stress-related health problems among school children," CESifo Working Paper Series 7648, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Clarke, Damian & Mühlrad, Hanna, 2016. "The Impact of Abortion Legalization on Fertility and Maternal Mortality: New Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers in Economics 661, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    15. Dörsam, Michael & Lauber, Verena, 2015. "The Effect of a Compressed High School Curriculum on University Performance," Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 140876, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    16. Elizabeth Lemmon, 2018. "Utilisation of personal care services in Scotland: the influence of unpaid carers," CINCH Working Paper Series 1802, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health.

    More about this item

    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

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