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Essays on the Evaluation of Educational Policies

Adamecz-Volgyi, Anna; (2016) Essays on the Evaluation of Educational Policies. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), Central European University. Green open access

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Abstract

In my thesis, I evaluate the effects of educational policy interventions. Educational outcomes are important factors of economic and social success. According to the human capital theory, individuals invest time and effort in their education for immediate and future gains. In the theoretical model of schooling investment and consumption decisions, one decides about how much time and effort to invest in learning maximizing the difference of the expected present value of lifetime wages and non-monetary benefits from schooling, and the actual costs of going to school and taking efforts. Both theoretical and empirical evidence shows that such decision-making process may lead to lower-than-optimal schooling investment decisions, especially in the case of children of low socio-economic background, because they discount future returns more heavily, and also, learning may require more efforts from them. Educational policies can influence the production of educational outcomes through two main channels. First, they may aim to induce individuals to invest more in learning. Second, they can increase the productivity of the learning process within schools to produce higher outcomes. I examine examples of these two types of policy measures in my dissertation. In the first two chapters, I estimate the impacts of increasing the compulsory school leaving (CSL) age in Hungary. CSL age legislation introduces a constraint into the mechanism in which one decides about how much time to invest in going to school. I make use of a legislation change that increased CSL age from 16 to 18. In the first chapter, I estimate the effects of increased CSL age on secondary school track choice which occurs at age 14 and secondary school dropout rates. I find that the legislation change resulted in an increased probability that children would choose the academic high school track instead of vocational training schools. At the same time, those choosing vocational training schools are more likely to drop out under the higher CSL age scheme. Potential explanations of increased dropout rates include a decrease in the quality of teaching in vocational training schools due to supply constraints, and a shift in student composition to include more students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The second chapter is joint work with Flóra Samu and Ágota Scharle. We are looking at the effects of increased CSL age on the teenage fertility of Roma women, a disadvantaged ethnic minority in Hungary. We provide evidence that the legislation change decreased the probability of teenage motherhood among Roma women by 6.8 percentage points. This effect is temporary as higher CSL age delayed first birth-giving by two years. We exploit a unique database that covers live births, miscarriages, abortions, and stillbirths, and contains information on the time of conception by weekly precision. We propose that the impact of the legislation change can be explained exclusively by the incapacitation effect of education, which keeps women physically in school: the higher CSL age decreases the probability of getting pregnant during the school year but not during summer and Christmas breaks. The third chapter, which is joint work with Gábor Kézdi and Éva Surányi, considers educational policy from a different angle. It estimates the effects of a change in the technology of educational production within schools by looking at the OOIH demonstration program in Hungary. The program supported teachers and the management of schools with disadvantaged Roma students, mixed with non-Roma students, and aimed at helping the development of all students in an integrated school environment. We find that the program had significant positive effects on academic development (especially for Roma students), socio-emotional skills (in both ethnic groups), and inter-ethnic attitudes of non-Roma students. In my thesis, I document that increasing the CSL age affects forward-looking decision making about secondary school track choice, and impacts the distribution of students in school. I find that these effects are the strongest among children of low-educated parents. Furthermore, I provide evidence that higher CSL age can reduce teenage pregnancy solely through the incapacitation effect of being in school, even in a case when no human capital effects of education can be detected. Lastly, I document that a sensitive approach to the integrated education of Roma and non-Roma students is beneficial for all parties involved.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Essays on the Evaluation of Educational Policies
Event: Central European University
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://sierra.ceu.edu/record=b1202301
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10074073
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