Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this online conference.

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Session Overview
E01: Education Policies
Thursday, 19/Aug/2021:
12:30pm - 2:00pm

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12:30pm - 12:52pm

Distraction or Teaching Tool: Do Smartphone Bans in Schools Help Students?

Sara Abrahamsson

Norwegian School of Economics, Norway

How smartphone usage affects learning and well-being among children and teenagers is a concern for schools, parents, and policymakers. However, causal evidence of the effect that new technology such as smartphones has on student outcomes remains scarce. This paper studies the effect of banning smartphones from the classroom on students' educational outcomes and incidents of bullying in Norwegian middle schools. Combining detailed administrative data with survey data on middle schools' smartphone policies, I show, through an event-study design that banning smartphones significantly increases girls' test scores in mathematics, increases their likelihood of attending an academic high school track, and decreases incidents of bullying. Hence, banning smartphones from school could potentially be a low-cost policy tool to improve educational outcomes and reduce bullying.

Abrahamsson-Distraction or Teaching Tool-130.pdf

12:52pm - 1:15pm

Modeling the Spending and Welfare Effects of School Finance Reforms

Aaron Saul Goodman

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America

The dual nature of American education funding complicates the analysis of school finance policy, since districts can adjust their local revenue collection in response to state funding changes and use accumulated savings buffers to divorce spending choices from current revenue levels. Focusing on the helpful institutional setting in the state of Ohio, I address this challenge and evaluate the long-run consequences of school finance reforms. I first build a dynamic model of school district behavior and validate its reduced-form predictions about levy-proposal and spending-saving decisions. Leveraging the variation induced by a statewide freeze on nominal property-tax revenue, I estimate the model and use the structural results to compute the spending and welfare effects of counterfactual policy reforms. By targeting districts with the most favorable behavioral responses and the highest valuations of marginal funds, budget-neutral reallocations of state aid can attain welfare increases equal to 4% of Ohio's current education expenditures.

Goodman-Modeling the Spending and Welfare Effects of School Finance Reforms-102.pdf

1:15pm - 1:37pm

The Effect of Studying with International Peers on Location Choices

Mirjam Bächli

University of St.Gallen, Switzerland

An established fact is that higher education attracts immigrants. How does this affect the intranational location choices of native graduates in their early careers? Using administrative Swiss data, I exploit idiosyncratic variation in the student composition across time within a study field and university. I show that a higher exposure to international students induces natives who grew up in rural places to work more often in urban areas, while I find no evidence for an effect on their residential choice. This implies that the economic activity of highly skilled individuals becomes more concentrated in urban locations. I also show that the response of natives is likely driven by changes in preferences rather than labor market conditions, despite relatively high stay rates of international students.

Bächli-The Effect of Studying with International Peers on Location Choices-329.pdf

1:37pm - 2:00pm

The Impact of Attending an Independent Upper Secondary School: Evidence from Sweden Using School Ranking Data

Karin Edmark1, Lovisa Persson2

1Stockholms universitet, Sweden; 2Kristianstad University College, Sweden

Since the 1990s, the Swedish education market has gone through a dramatic transformation due to the introduction of voucher-funded independent schools. We make use of data on school applications to condition on student preferences for independent versus public education, and estimate a positive relationship between independent upper secondary school attendance and grades, graduation rates, and several types of post-secondary educations. We however also find strong indications that grade inflation lies behind at least part of the above effects, especially in schools organized as for-profit entities and in schools with a low share of qualified teachers. Our results suggest that, although independent school attendance seems to benefit the individual students in terms of higher grades and increased transition to post-secondary studies, grade inflation in the Swedish upper secondary independent schools may be a serious problem.

Edmark-The Impact of Attending an Independent Upper Secondary School-191.pdf

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