Not working: demographic changes, policy changes, and the distribution of weeks (not) worked
From 1978 to 2000 the fraction of adult men in full-year non-employment increased from 17.1 to 21.6 percent. Previous research focused on the role of disability insurance policy and wage structure changes to explain this increase. Using Current Population Surveys from 1979 to 2003 we assess how much of the changes in full-year non-employment can be explained by demographic changes, possibly linked to health. With our empirical strategy we examine how 1978 to 2000 changes in demographic characteristics would have changed the distribution of weeks worked if policies and macroeconomic conditions remained as they were in 1978. For prime-aged men, we find changes in age, race, and ethnicity can ?explain? 14 to 33 percent of the increase in full-year non-employment, without any change in policy or wage structure. For prime-aged women, changes in demographics also would have predicted increases in full-year nonemployment, when in fact we saw dramatic decreases.
AUTHORS: Butcher, Kristin F.; Barrow, Lisa
Financial incentives and educational investment: the impact of performance-based scholarships on student time use
Using survey data from a field experiment in the U.S., we test whether and how financial incentives change student behavior. We find that providing post-secondary scholarships with incentives to meet performance, enrollment, and/or attendance benchmarks induced students to devote more time to educational activities and to increase the quality of effort toward, and engagement with, their studies; students also allocated less time to other activities such as work and leisure. While the incentives did not generate impacts after eligibility had ended, they also did not decrease students? inherent interest or enjoyment in learning. Finally, we present evidence suggesting that students were motivated more by the incentives provided than simply the effect of giving additional money, and that students who were arguably less time-constrained were more responsive to the incentives as were those who were plausibly more myopic. Overall these results indicate that well-designed incentives can induce post-secondary students to increase investments in educational attainment.
AUTHORS: Barrow, Lisa; Rouse, Cecilia Elena
An analysis of women's return-to-work decisions following first birth
Women's labor force participation rate has increased sharply over the last two decades. The increase has been particularly dramatic for married women with young children suggesting that women are spending less time out of the labor force for child-bearing and rearing. Using the relatively detailed information available in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, this paper explores women's decisions to return to work within one year of the birth of their first child, focusing particularly on the effect of child care costs. Consistent with economic theory, women who face lower child care costs are more likely to return to work after giving birth as are women with higher potential wages and lower family income from other sources.
AUTHORS: Barrow, Lisa
The Impact of Chicago's Small High School Initiative
This project examines the effects of the introduction of new small high schools on student performance in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district. Specifically, we investigate whether students attending small high schools have better graduation/enrollment rates and achievement than similar students who attend regular CPS high schools. We show that students who choose to attend a small school are more disadvantaged on average, including having prior test scores that are about 0.2 standard deviations lower than their elementary school classmates. To address the selection problem, we use an instrumental variables strategy and compare students who live in the same neighborhoods but differ in their residential proximity to a small school. In this approach, one student is more likely to sign up for a small school than another statistically identical student because the small school is located closer to the student?s house and therefore the ?cost? of attending the school is lower. The distance-to-small-school variable has strong predictive power to identify who attends a small school. We find that small schools students are substantially more likely to persist in school and eventually graduate. Nonetheless, there is no positive impact on student achievement as measured by test scores.
AUTHORS: Barrow, Lisa; Claessens, Amy; Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore
Women and the Phillips curve: do women’s and men’s labor market outcomes differentially affect real wage growth and inflation?
During the economic expansion of the 1990s, the United States enjoyed both low inflation rates and low levels of unemployment. Juhn, Murphy, and Topel (2002) point out that the low unemployment rates for men in the 1990s were accompanied by historically high rates of non-employment suggesting that the 1990s economy was not as strong as the unemployment rate might indicate. We include women in the analysis and examine whether the Phillips curve relationships between real compensation growth, changes in inflation, and labor market slackness are the same for men and women and whether measures of ?non- employment? better capture underlying economic activity, as suggested by Juhn, Murphy, and Topel?s analysis. From 1965 to 2002 the increase in women?s labor force participation more than offsets the decline for men, and low unemployment rates in the 1990s were accompanied by historically low overall non- employment rates. We find that women?s measures of labor market slackness do as well as men?s in explaining real compensation growth and changes in inflation after 1983. We also find some evidence that non-employment rates are more closely related to changes in inflation than other measures of labor market slackness; however, we do not find the same for real compensation growth.
AUTHORS: Butcher, Kristin F.; Anderson, Katharine; Barrow, Lisa
The earned income credit and durable goods purchase
AUTHORS: Barrow, Lisa; McGranahan, Leslie
Teachers and student achievement in the Chicago public high schools
We match administrative data on Chicago public high school students and teachers at the classroom level to estimate the importance of teachers to mathematics test score gains. We show that sampling variation and other measurement issues are important drivers of nave estimates of teacher effects, in some cases accounting for the majority of dispersion in teacher quality. However, correcting for these problems, teachers are still economically and statistically influential. Replacing a teacher with another that is rated two standard deviations superior in quality can add 0.35 to 0.45 grade equivalents, or 30 to 40 percent of an average school year, to a student's math score performance. Furthermore, the teacher quality ratings are relatively stable within an individual instructor over time and reasonably consistent across most student types, with the notable exception of the lowest achieving students, where the same two standard deviation improvement in teacher quality adds only 0.20 grade equivalents. Finally, we relate our measured teacher effects to observable characteristics of the instructors and show that the vast majority is unexplained by standard observable characteristics of teachers, including those that are typically used for compensation purposes
AUTHORS: Sander, William; Barrow, Lisa; Aaronson, Daniel
The Expansion of High School Choice in Chicago Public Schools
Public school choice in Chicago has been in existence for more than 30 years and has noticeably expanded over the past 15 years. In 1987, United States Secretary of Education William Bennett labeled Chicago?s public schools the ?worst in the nation.? At that time, reportedly one-half of Chicago?s 64 high schools ranked in the bottom 1 percent on the ACT among schools that administered the test.1 Bennett further said Chicago parents should consider private school options, arguing that increased competition from private schools would improve the performance of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Since then, private school enrollment in Chicago among 15 year olds has actually fallen?from 22.3 percent in 1990 to 11.9 percent in 2015.2 At the same time, the quality of CPS schools has generally improved. Average ACT scores have risen, while dropout rates have declined (Allensworth et al., 2016).
AUTHORS: Barrow, Lisa; Sartain , Lauren
Private school location and neighborhood characteristics
Any voucher program that is going to have a major impact on the public education system is likely to require an expansion of private schools in order to accommodate increased demand; however, very little is known about where private schools open and, therefore, how a major voucher program might affect private school availability in various communities. This article examines the relationship between the location of private schools and local neighborhood characteristics, hoping to shed some light on how a universal school voucher program might change the private school composition of local markets.
AUTHORS: Barrow, Lisa
Child care costs and the return-to-work decisions of new mothers
Women's labor force participation has nearly doubled in the past 50 years. The increase has been even more dramatic for women with young children, and recent reforms to welfare programs are likely to push the participation rate for this segment even higher. This article examines the economic determinants of a woman's decision to return to work quickly following childbirth, looking in particular at sensitivity to child care costs.
AUTHORS: Barrow, Lisa