Publikationen ab 2020:
Bergbauer, A.B.; Hanushek, E.A. & Woessmann, L. (2022): “Testing”, Journal of Human Resources
The significant expansion of student testing has not generally been linked to educational outcomes. We investigate how different testing regimes – providing varying information to parents, teachers, and decision makers – relate to student achievement. We exploit PISA data for two million students in 59 countries observed from 2000-2015. Removing country and year fixed effects, we investigate how testing reforms affect country performance. In low- and medium-performing countries, more standardized testing is associated with higher student achievement, while added internal reporting and teacher monitoring are not. But in high-performing countries expansion of standardized internal testing and teacher monitoring appears harmful.
Berkes, J.; Peter, F.; Spieß, C. K. & Weinhardt, F. (2022): “Information Provision and Postgraduate Studies”, Ecomomica
This is the first paper to examine experimentally effects of information provision on beliefs about pecuniary and non-pecuniary returns of postgraduate education, enrolment intentions and realized enrolment. We find that our treatment causally affects beliefs measured six months after treatment. The effects on beliefs differ by gender and academic background, and we find that stated enrolment intentions change accordingly; in particular, males adjust significantly downwards their beliefs and intentions to undertake postgraduate studies. This is driven by males upward adjusting earnings expectations with a first degree only. We follow the students further and provide evidence on actual enrolment one and two years after treatment. Taken together, this study highlights the relevance of information provision on pecuniary and non-pecuniary labour market returns for postgraduate study decisions.
Buser, T.; Peter, N. & Wolter, S. C. (2022): “Willingness to compete, gender and career choices along the whole ability distribution”, Experimental Economics
We expand the scope of the literature on willingness to compete by asking how it varies with academic ability and whether and how it predicts career choices at different ability levels. The literature so far has mainly focused on career choices made by students at the top of the ability distribution, particularly in academic institutions. We experimentally elicit the willingness to compete of 1500 Swiss lower-secondary school students at all ability levels and link it to the study choice that students make upon finishing compulsory school. Our analysis of the relationship between willingness to compete and the study choice considers the full set of study options, including the options in vocational education. We find that willingness to compete predicts which study option high-ability students choose, not only among academic specializations but also among vocational careers, and, importantly, it also predicts whether low-ability boys pursue upper-secondary education upon finishing compulsory schooling. Our second main contribution is to systematically explore how willingness to compete varies with academic ability. We find that high-ability boys, but not girls, are substantially more willing to compete compared to all other children. As a consequence, the gender gap in willingness to compete is significantly lower among low-ability students than among high-ability students. Overall, our study highlights that insights from the literature on willingness to compete are relevant for a broader set of policy questions, populations and choices.
Cattaneo, M. A. & Wolter, S. C. (2022): “«Against all odds»; Does awareness of the risk of failure matter for educational choices?”, Economics of Education Review
Educational decisions are always made under uncertainty. This paper examines the effect of providing information about dropout risks on stated preferences for academic versus vocational education in Switzerland, making use of the fact that there are marked historical and cultural differences in preferences for and enrolment rates in academic vs. vocational education across the different language regions. Since there is some harmonisation in terms of the required cognitive performance for an academic degree, different enrolment rates in academic education need to be partially corrected later, resulting in higher risks of dropout during the program in regions with higher preferences for academic education. By means of a survey experiment, we show that in those language regions with a strong preference for academic education, the disclosure of the risk of dropping out of education has no effect on preferences, while in the regions with less strong preferences for academic education, the information treatment on the risks significantly shifts preferences towards vocational education. Our results suggest that the deterrent effect of a higher risk of dropping out is too small to achieve an efficient allocation of talents, if preferences for a particular type of education are very strong.
Eggenberger, C.; Janssen, S. & Backes-Gellner, U. (2022): “The value of specific skills under shock: High risks and high resturns”, Labour Economics
We study the causal effects of negative and positive demand shocks on the returns to specific skills by using variation from international trade shocks. To measure specific skills, we use task information from an official data set for career guidance and merge this information with a large register data set. Our results show that negative demand shocks result in larger earnings losses for workers with specific skills than for those with general skills, but workers with specific skills also profit much more from positive demand shocks. Thus, demand shocks lead to risk-return trade-offs for workers with specific skills.
Görlitz, K.; Penny, M. & Tamm, M. (2022): “The long-term effect of age at school entry on cognitive competencies in adulthood”, Journal of Economic Behaviour & Organization
While the previous literature finds robust evidence that children who enter school at a more advanced age have better test scores than their younger classmates, only little is known about the persistence of this effect into adulthood. This study is the first to analyze whether the school starting age even affects test scores long after school graduation. The scores were conducted as part of a representative survey of adults, measuring math and language competencies. Exploiting state and year variation in school entry regulations, the results show that a higher school starting age significantly increases competencies in receptive vocabulary.
Grewenig, E.; Lergetporer, P.; Werner, K. & Woessmann, L. (2022): “Incentives, Search Engines, and the Elicitation of Subjective Beliefs: Evidence from Representative Online Survey Experiments”, Journal of Econometrics
A large literature studies subjective beliefs about economic facts using unincentivized survey questions. We devise randomized experiments in a representative online survey to investigate whether incentivizing belief accuracy affects stated beliefs about average earnings by professional degree and average public school spending. Incentive provision does not impact earnings beliefs, but improves school-spending beliefs. Response spikes suggest that the latter effect likely reflects increased online-search activity. Consistently, an experiment that just encourages search-engine usage produces very similar results. Another experiment provides no evidence of experimenter-demand effects. Overall, results suggest a trade-off between increased respondent effort and the risk of inducing online-search activity when incentivizing beliefs in online surveys.
Hanushek, E.A.; Kinne, L.; Lergetporer, P. & Woessmann, L. (2022): “Patience, Risk-Taking, and Human Capital Investment across Countries”, Economic Journal
Patience and risk-taking—two preference components that steer intertemporal decision-making—are fundamental to human capital investment decisions. To understand how they contribute to international skill differences, we combine Programme for International Student Assessment tests with the Global Preference Survey. We find that opposing effects of patience (positive) and risk-taking (negative) together account for two-thirds of the cross-country variation in student skills. In an identification strategy addressing unobserved residence country features, we find similar results when assigning migrant students their country-of-origin preferences in models with residence country fixed effects. Associations of national preferences with family and school inputs suggest that both may act as channels.
Jürges, H.; Makles, A. M.; Naghavi, A. & Schneider, K. (2022): “Melting pot kindergarten: The effect of linguistic diversity in early education”, Labour Economics
Estimating the effect of linguistic diversity in kindergartens and schools on child development is challenging due to the endogeneity of the language spoken at home and self-selection. We employ an instrumental variables approach to address the former and accounted for self-selection by exploiting the variation in linguistic diversity across cohorts within kindergartens. The estimated causal effects of linguistic diversity are heterogeneous: There is a small negative but statistically significant effect on the development of German children, which is mainly driven by a detrimental effect on the language skills of German speakers, but there is no effect on non-German speakers
Kuhn, A.; Schweri, J. & Wolter, S. (2022) “Local Norms Describing the Role of the State and the Private Provision of Training”, European Journal of Political Economy
Apprenticeship systems are essentially based on the voluntary participation of firms that provide, and usually also finance, training positions, often incurring considerable net training costs. One potential, yet under-researched explanation for this behavior is that firms act in accordance with the norms and expectations they face in the local labor market in which they operate. In this paper, we focus on the Swiss apprenticeship system and ask whether local norms towards the private, rather than the public, provision of training influence firms’ decisions to offer apprenticeship positions. In line with this hypothesis, we find that the training incidence is higher in communities characterized by a stronger norm towards the private provision of training, which we measure using local results from two national-level plebiscites that explicitly dealt with the role of the state in the context of the apprenticeship system. This finding turns out to be robust to a series of alternative specifications and robustness checks.
Kuhn, A. & Wolter, S. C. (2022): “Things versus People: Gender Differences in Vocational Interests and in Occupational Preferences”, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Occupational choices remain strongly segregated by gender, for reasons not yet fully understood. In this paper, we use detailed information on the cognitive requirements in 130 distinct learnable occupations in the Swiss apprenticeship system to describe the broad job content in these occupations along the things-versus-people dimension. We first show that our occupational classification along this dimension closely aligns with actual job tasks, taken from an independent data source on employers job advertisements. We then document that female apprentices tend to choose occupations that are oriented towards working with people, while male apprentices tend to favor occupations that involve working with things. In fact, our analysis suggests that this variable is by any statistical measure among the most important proximate predictors of occupational gender segregation. In a further step, we replicate this finding using individual-level data on both occupational aspirations and actual occupational choices for a sample of adolescents at the start of 8th grade and the end of 9th grade, respectively. Using these additional data, we finally show that the gender difference in occupational preferences is largely independent of a large number of individual, parental, and regional controls.
Marcus, J.; Siedler, T. & Ziebarth, N. R. (2022): “The Long-Run Effects of Sports Club Vouchers for Primary School Children”, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the twenty-first century. While small-scale experiments change behaviors among adults in the short run, we know little about the effectiveness of large-scale policies or the longer-run impacts. To nudge primary school children into a long-term habit of exercising, the German state of Saxony distributed sports club membership vouchers among all 33,000 third graders in 2009. In 2018, we carried out a register-based survey to evaluate the policy. Even after a decade, awareness of the voucher program was significantly higher in the treatment group. We also find that youth received and redeemed the vouchers. However, we do not find significant short- or long-term effects on sports club membership, physical activity, overweightness, or motor skills. Apparently, membership vouchers for children are not a strong enough policy tool to overcome barriers to exercise regularly.
Marcus, J. & Koebe, J. (2022): “The Length of Schooling and the Timing of Family Formation”, CESifo Economic Studies
Individuals typically traverse several life phases before forming a family. We analyze whether changing the duration of one of these phases, the education phase, affects the timing of marriage and childbearing. For this purpose, we exploit the introduction of short school years (SSYs) in Germany in 1966–1967, which compressed the education phase without affecting the curriculum. Based on difference-in-differences regressions and German Micro Census data, we find that SSY exposure affects the timing of marriage for individuals in all secondary school tracks and shifts forward the birth of the first child mainly for academic-track graduates. This highlights that education policies might not only affect family formation through human capital accumulation, but also through changing the duration of earlier life phases. This is important as not only age at marriage and first birth increases in many countries, but also the duration of the education phase.
Muehlemann, S.; Dietrich, H.; Pfann, G. & Pfeifer, H. (2022): “Supply shocks in the market for apprenticeship training”, Economics of Education Review
We present a model with heterogeneous inputs and constant elasticity of substitution to examine the possible effects of a supply shock in the market for apprenticeship training. The model’s predictions are tested using data from a German high school reform that led to a one-time increase in the supply of highly educated apprentices. A difference-in-differences estimation strategy exploits regional variation in the timing of implementation, and an instrumental variable approach identifies the supply shock effects. We find that apprenticeship contracts among individuals with a high school degree increased by 7%, while apprentice wages were unaffected by the supply shock. Moreover, we find no evidence of substitution effects, as the number of training contracts among individuals with a lower-level school degree did not decrease. Our model predicts that such effects may occur when wages are sticky for apprentices with a high level of education relative to their productivity, which signals inefficiencies in the market for apprenticeship training.
Schunk, D.; Berger, E. M.; Hermes, H., Winkel, K. & Fehr, E. (2022): “Teaching self-regulation”, Nature Human Behaviour
Children’s self-regulation abilities are key predictors of educational success and other life outcomes such as income and health. However, self-regulation is not a school subject, and knowledge about how to generate lasting improvements in self-regulation and academic achievements with easily scalable, low-cost interventions is still limited. Here we report the results of a randomized controlled field study that integrates a short self-regulation teaching unit based on the concept of mental contrasting with implementation intentions into the school curriculum of first graders. We demonstrate that the treatment increases children’s skills in terms of impulse control and self-regulation while also generating lasting improvements in academic skills such as reading and monitoring careless mistakes. Moreover, it has a substantial effect on children’s long-term school career by increasing the likelihood of enroling in an advanced secondary school track three years later. Thus, self-regulation teaching can be integrated into the regular school curriculum at low cost, is easily scalable, and can substantially improve important abilities and children’s educational career path.
Aepli, M; Kuhn, A & Schweri, J. (2021): “Culture, Norms, and the PRovision of Training by Employers: Evidence from the Swiss Language Border”, Labour Economics
Apprenticeships are the core track of the Swiss educational system at the upper-secondary level, made possible by the fact that many Swiss firms voluntarily provide appropriate training positions. However, firms’ training provision differs substantively between the language-cultural regions within Switzerland. This feature of the Swiss apprenticeship system is hard to explain using conventional explanations of firm-provided training. In this paper, we argue that there are cultural differences in the norms favoring private over state provision of goods, which influence firms’ provision of training positions. Exploiting national referenda, we first show that, within a narrow band around the language border, voters in German speaking municipalities value private over public provision of certain goods more than their French speaking counterparts. We then document a higher share of training firms on the German speaking side of the language border of 4.4 percentage points, or roughly 13%. This estimate is robust across different sets of controls, alternative specifications, and various subsamples. Our results suggest an interplay between regional norms and local firms’ training behavior.
Denning, J.; Murphy, R. & Weinhardt, F. (2021): “Class rank and long-run outcomes”, Review of Economics and Statistics
This paper considers an unavoidable feature of the school environment, class rank. What are the long-run effects of a student’s ordinal rank in elementary school? Using administrative data on all public-school students in Texas, we show that students with a higher third-grade academic rank, conditional on achievement and classroom fixed effects, have higher subsequent test scores, are more likely to take AP classes, graduate from high school, enroll in and graduate from college, and ultimately have higher earnings 19 years later. We also discuss the necessary assumptions for the identification of rank effects and propose new solutions to identification challenges. The paper concludes by exploring the tradeoff between higher quality schools and higher rank in the presence of these rank-based peer. effects
Grewenig, E.; Lergetporer, P.; Werner, K.; Woessmann, L. & Zierow, L. (2021): “COVID-19 and Educational Inequality: How School Closures Affect Low- and High-Achieving Students”, European Economic Review
In spring 2020, governments around the globe shut down schools to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. We argue that low-achieving students may be particularly affected by the lack of educator support during school closures. We collect detailed time-use information on students before and during the school closures in a survey of 1099 parents in Germany. We find that while students on average reduced their daily learning time of 7.4 h by about half, the reduction was significantly larger for low-achievers (4.1 h) than for high-achievers (3.7 h). Low-achievers disproportionately replaced learning time with detrimental activities such as TV or computer games rather than with activities more conducive to child development. The learning gap was not compensated by parents or schools who provided less support for low-achieving students.
Hermes, H.; Huschens, M.; Rothlauf, F. & Schunk, D. (2021): “Motivating low-achievers—Relative performance feedback in primary schools”, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
Relative performance feedback (RPF) has often been shown to improve effort and performance in the workplace and educational settings. Yet, many studies also document substantial negative effects of RPF, in particular for low-achievers. We study a novel type of RPF designed to overcome these negative effects of RPF on low-achievers by scoring individual performance improvements. With a sample of 400 children, we conduct a class-wise randomized-controlled trial using an e-learning software in regular teaching lessons in primary schools. We demonstrate that this type of RPF significantly increases motivation, effort, and performance in math for low-achieving children, without hurting high-achieving children. Among low-achievers, those receiving more points and moving up in the ranking improved strongest on motivation and math performance. In an exploratory analysis, we document substantial gender differences in response to this type of RPF: improvements in motivation and learning are much stronger for girls. We argue that using this new type of RPF could potentially reduce inequalities, especially in educational settings.
Pfister, C.; Koomen, M.; Harhoff, D. & Backes-Gellner, U. (2021): “Regional Innovation Effects of Applied Research Institutions”, Research Policy
We analyze the effect of applied research institutions on regional innovation activity. Exploiting a policy reform that created tertiary education institutions conducting applied research, the Universities of Applied Sciences (UASs) in Switzerland, we apply difference-in-differences estimations to investigate their effect on innovation quantity and quality. Findings show a 6.8% increase in regional patenting activity (i.e., quantity), and an in- crease of patent quality of up to 9.7% (measured by patent family size, and the number of claims, and citations per patent). Findings are robust to various model specifications, suggesting that applied research taught in UASs boosts regional innovation.
Marcus, J.; Reif, S.; Wuppermann, A. & Rouche, A. (2020): ” Increased instruction time and stress-related health problems among school children”, Journal of Health Economics
While several studies suggest that stress-related mental health problems among school children are related to specific elements of schooling, empirical evidence on this causal relationship is scarce. We examine a German schooling reform that increased weekly instruction time and study its effects on stress-related outpatient diagnoses from the universe of health claims data of the German Social Health Insurance. Exploiting the differential timing in the reform implementation across states, we show that the reform slightly increased stress-related health problems among school children. While increasing instruction time might increase student performance, it might have adverse effects in terms of additional stress.
Murphy, R. & Weinhardt, F. (2020): “Top of the class: the importance of ordinal rank”, Review of Economic Studies
This article establishes a new fact about educational production: ordinal academic rank during primary school has lasting impacts on secondary school achievement that are independent of underlying ability. Using data on the universe of English school students, we exploit naturally occurring differences in achievement distributions across primary school classes to estimate the impact of class rank. We find large effects on test scores, confidence, and subject choice during secondary school, even though these students have a new set of peers and teachers who are unaware of the students’ prior ranking in primary school. The effects are especially pronounced for boys, contributing to an observed gender gap in the number of Maths courses chosen at the end of secondary school. Using a basic model of student effort allocation across subjects, we distinguish between learning and non-cognitive skills mechanisms, finding support for the latter.
Marcus, J. & Zambre, V. (2019): “The Effect of Increasing Education Efficiency on University Enrollment Evidence from Administrative Data and an Unusual Schooling Reform in Germany”, The Journal of Human Resources
We examine the consequences of compressing secondary schooling for university enrollment. An unusual education reform in Germany reduced the length of academic high school while simultaneously increasing the instruction hours in the remaining years. Accordingly, students receive the same amount of schooling but over a shorter period of time. Based on a difference-in-differences approach and using administrative data on all students in Germany, we find that this reform decreased university enrollment rates. Moreover, students are more likely to delay their enrollment, to drop out of university, and to change their major. We discuss supply-side restrictions, age differences, and increased workload during school as potential mechanisms and present back-of-the-envelope cost–benefit considerations showing that the earnings gain from an extended labor market participation may still offset the adverse effects presented in this study.
Lehnert, P.; Pfister, C. & Backes-Gellner, U. (2020): “Employment of R&D personnel after an educational supply shock: Effects of the introduction of Universities of Applied Sciences in Switzerland”, Labour Economics
We examine whether firms increase their employment of R&D personnel in response to an expansion of tertiary education institutions, i.e., a supply shock of skilled labor. We use the staggered introduction of Universities of Applied Sciences (UASs) in Switzerland as a quasi-natural experiment to identify causal effects. Firms located near a new UAS campus experience an education-driven labor supply shock in the form of UAS graduates newly entering the local labor market. Using a large representative firm survey and applying a difference-in-differences model, we find that this labor supply shock has positive effects: first, on the percentage of R&D personnel relative to total employment and, second, on the percentage of total wages paid to them. These effects are driven by both very small firms (five to nine employees) and very large ones (5,000 or more). Our findings suggest that a tertiary education expansion can stimulate innovation activities by increasing the personnel resources devoted to R&D.
Lergetporer, P.; Werner, K. & Woessmann, L. (2020): “Educational Inequality and Public Policy Preferences: Evidence from Representative Survey Experiments”, Journal of Public Economics
To study how information about educational inequality affects public concerns and policy preferences, we devise survey experiments in representative samples of the German population. Providing information about the extent of educational inequality strongly increases concerns about educational inequality. It also affects support for equity-oriented education policies (which have high baseline support), although effects are quantitatively small on average. However, instrumental-variable estimates suggest substantial effects of concerns on policy preferences among the compliers whose concerns are shifted by the information treatment. There are substantial effects on support for compulsory preschool, which increases further if respondents are informed about policy effectiveness.
Pregaldini, D.; Backes-Gellner, U. & Eisenkopf, G. (2020): “Girls’ preferences for STEM and the effects of classroom gender composition: new evidence from a natural experiment.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
We analyze how preferences for STEM fields moderate the effect of classroom gender com- position on the math grades of girls in high school. Using data from Switzerland, we com- pare students who have self-selected into a STEM specialization with students who have self-selected into a language specialization. Our identification exploits the random assignment of students to classrooms after they have chosen their specialization. In contrast to the average effects found in previous studies, we find a negative effect of the proportion of female peers in the classroom on math grades for girls who have self-selected into the STEM specialization and a positive effect for girls who have self-selected into a language specialization. These results are important for policies affecting the gender composition of classrooms.