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Jel Classification:I21 

Information heterogeneity and intended college enrollment

Despite a robust college premium, college attendance rates in the United States have remained stagnant and exhibit a substantial socioeconomic gradient. We focus on information gaps? specifically, incomplete information about college benefits and costs?as a potential explanation for these patterns. In a nationally representative survey of U.S. household heads, we show that perceptions of college costs and benefits are severely and systematically biased: 74 percent of our respondents underestimate the true benefits of college (average earnings of a college graduate relative to a non-college ...
Staff Reports , Paper 685

Working Paper
Stepping Stone and Option Value in a Model of Postsecondary Education

A stepping stone arises in risky environments with learning and transferable human capital. An example is the role played by academic two-year colleges in postsecondary education: Students, as they learn about the uncertain educational outcomes, can drop out or transfer up to harder and more rewarding schools, carrying a fraction of the accumulated human capital. A theory of education is built and contrasted empirically to find that i) option value explains a large part of returns to enrollment, ii) enrollment in academic two-year colleges is driven by the option to transfer up, and iii) the ...
Working Paper , Paper 14-3

Working Paper
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 ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2014-20

Do vouchers lead to sorting under random private-school selection? Evidence from the Milwaukee voucher program

This paper analyzes the impact of voucher design on student sorting in the application and enrollment phases of parental choice. More specifically, it investigates whether there are feasible ways of designing vouchers that can reduce or eliminate student sorting in these phases. Much of the existing literature investigates the question of sorting where private schools can screen students. However, the publicly funded U.S. voucher programs require private schools to accept all students unless oversubscribed and to pick students randomly if oversubscribed. This paper focuses on two crucial ...
Staff Reports , Paper 379

University choice: the role of expected earnings, non-pecuniary outcomes, and financial constraints

We investigate the determinants of students? university choice, with a focus on expected monetary returns, non-pecuniary factors enjoyed at school, and financial constraints, in the Pakistani context. To mitigate the identification problem concerning the separation of preferences, expectations, and markets constraints, we combine rich data on individual-specific subjective expectations about labor market and non-pecuniary outcomes, with direct measures of financial constraints and students? stated school choice both with and without financial constraints. Estimates from a life-cycle model ...
Staff Reports , Paper 683

Abbott and Bacon Districts: education finances during the Great Recession

In the State of New Jersey, any child between the age of five and eighteen has the constitutional right to a thorough and efficient education. The State of New Jersey also has one of the country?s most rigid policies regarding a balanced budget come fiscal end. When state and local revenues took a big hit in the most recent recession, officials had to make tough decisions about education spending. This paper exploits rich panel data and trend-shift analysis to analyze how school finances in the Abbott and Bacon School Districts, as well as the high-poverty districts in general, were affected ...
Staff Reports , Paper 573

Working Paper
How to Design a State Education Aid Formula That Is Equitable, Adequate, and Politically Feasible: The Case of Connecticut

After being sued for inequity and inadequacy in school funding, many states have reformed their education aid policies. Using Connecticut as an example, this paper shows how to design a state education aid formula that can effectively address funding inequity and inadequacy while taking political feasibility into account. It first develops a measure of the gap between education cost and revenue capacity, both of which are estimated using school district characteristics that are outside the direct control of local officials at any given point in time. It then uses each district’s ...
Working Papers , Paper 21-1

Did cuts in state aid during the Great Recession lead to changes in local property taxes?

During the Great Recession and its aftermath, state and local governments? revenue streams dried up due to diminished taxes. Budget cuts affected many aspects of government; in this paper, we investigate whether (and how) local school districts modified their funding and taxing decisions in response to changes in state aid in the post-recession period. Using detailed district-level panel data from New York and a fixed effects as well as an instrumental variables strategy, we find strong evidence that school districts did indeed respond to state aid cuts in the post-recession period by ...
Staff Reports , Paper 643

Precarious slopes? The Great Recession, federal stimulus, and New Jersey schools

While sparse literature exists investigating the impact of the Great Recession on various sectors of the economy, there is virtually no research that studies the effect of the Great Recession, or past recessions, on schools. This paper starts to fill the void. Studying school funding during the recession is of paramount importance because schools have a fundamental role in fostering human capital formation and economic growth. We exploit unique panel-data and trend-shift analysis to analyze how New Jersey school finances were affected during the Great Recession and the ARRA federal stimulus ...
Staff Reports , Paper 538

Working Paper
What Kind of Teachers Are Schools Looking For? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment

Teacher quality is a pressing public policy concern, yet there is little evidence on what types of teachers schools actually prefer to hire. This paper reports the results of an experiment that involved sending schools fictitious resumes with randomly-chosen characteristics in an attempt to determine what characteristics schools value when hiring new teachers. The results of the study suggest that an applicant?s academic background has little impact on the likelihood of success at private and charter schools, although public schools respond more favorably to candidates from more selective ...
Working Papers (Old Series) , Paper 1436


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