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Ph.D. Course Econometric Evaluation of Education Policies

Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Ludger Wößmann

Ph.D. course, open for advanced Master students

Monday 4-6 pm (s.t.), Amalienstraße 73a, Zi. 103
Wednesday 10-12 am (s.t.), Ludwigstraße 28 RG, Zi. 026

Final deadline for submission of course paper: 1 March 2014 

6 ETCS; creditable to MSc optional modules (WP/OM) Applied Economics Analysis and Empirical Economics (OM 4), Public Economics (OM 5), Economic Research (OM 6), and Economic Research and Public Economics (OM 7)

Expected preconditions: Econometrics knowledge at level of MSc course; Experience in working with Stata; Willingness to conduct own empirical research

This Ph.D. course, which is open for advanced Master students, is not a traditional lecture course, but rather a reading-&-paper course. The main part of the course is that each participant develops her/his own applied paper project, and the main course requirement is not a traditional exam, but instead a term paper that should look like the first draft of a small empirical paper, plus a presentation.

The course is devised to ensure that participants learn about education policy, about evaluation methods, and about (the reality of) how to do applied research. At the same time, it tries to convey the enjoyment of doing economic research and requires participants to be creative and productive. Even though it is fun to do sound research, it also requires (a lot of) work; thus, participants are expected to work on the topic throughout the semester, not just in preparing an exam.

After a brief introduction on research methods for empirical identification and on selected hot topics in the economics of education, the main part of the course consists of sessions to discuss papers that everyone has read in advance and of sessions where everybody presents and discusses his/her ongoing paper project, new ideas and practical problems that turn up while working on it. The specific topics covered in the course will partly be endogenous to the specific interests expressed by participants.

Outline: Course Modules

A. Introduction 

  • A.1 The Course
  • A.2 Topics in the Economics of Education
  • A.3 Why an Economics of Education Policy?
  • A.4 The Econometrics of Policy Evaluation
  • A.5 Measuring Educational Outcomes

B. Topics in Education Policy 

  • B.1 Educational Production, Class-Size Effects, and Funding
  • B.2 Teachers and Teaching
  • B.3 Performance Incentives for Teachers and Students
  • B.4 Accountability and Central Exams
  • B.5 School Autonomy
  • B.6 School Choice and Competition
  • B.7 Families and Intergenerational Mobility
  • B.8 Peer Effects and Social Interaction
  • B.9 Tracking
  • B.10 Early Childhood Education Programs
  • B.11 Vocational Education and Training
  • B.12 Higher Education
  • B.13 Adult Education and Training

C. Econometric Methods for Policy Evaluation 

  • C.1 Causal Inference from Observational Data
  • C.2 Instrumental Variables
  • C.3 Regression Discontinuity
  • C.4 Differences-in-Differences
  • C.5 Fixed Effects

D. Paper Writing

E. Reading Sessions

F. Project Discussions 

  • F.1 Discussion of Project Ideas
  • F.2 Detailed Project Presentations

Course Materials

Module E: Reading Sessions

  • 23 October
    Felfe, Christina, Natalia Nollenberger, Núria Rodríguez-Planas (2013). Can't Buy Mommy's Love? Universal Childcare and Children's Long-Term Cognitive Development. CESifo Working Paper 4069. Munich: CESifo. PDF of revised version (913 KB)
  • 6 November
    Abdulkadiroğlu, Atila, Joshua D. Angrist, Susan M. Dynarski, Thomas J. Kane, Parag A. Pathak (2011). Accountability and Flexibility in Public Schools: Evidence from Boston's Charters and Pilots. Quarterly Journal of Economics 126 (2): 699-748.
  • 13 November
    Piopiunik, Marc (2013). Intergenerational Transmission of Education and Mediating Channels: Evidence from a Compulsory Schooling Reform in Germany. Scandinavian Journal of Economics: forthcoming.
  • 20 November
    Branch, Gregory F., Eric A. Hanushek, Steven G. Rivkin (2012). Estimating the Effect of Leaders on Public Sector Productivity: The Case of School Principals. NBER Working Paper 17803. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF (194 KB)
  • 27 November
    Schwerdt, Guido, Martin R. West (2013). The Effects of Test-Based Retention on Student Outcomes over Time: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Florida. CESifo Working Paper 4203. Munich: CESifo. PDF (427 KB)
  • 4 December
    West, Martin R., Ludger Woessmann (2010). 'Every Catholic Child in a Catholic School': Historical Resistance to State Schooling, Contemporary Private Competition and Student Achievement across Countries. Economic Journal 120 (546): F229-F255.
  • 11 December
    Pekkala Kerr, Sari, Tuomas Pekkarinen, Roope Uusitalo (2013). School Tracking and Development of Cognitive Skills. Journal of Labor Economics 31 (3): 577-602.
  • 18 December
    Chetty, Raj, John N. Friedman, Jonah E. Rockoff (2013). Measuring the Impacts of Teachers II: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood. NBER Working Paper 19424. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF (1143 KB)
  • 15 January

    Hanushek, Eric A., Susanne Link, Ludger Woessmann (2013). Does School Autonomy Make Sense Everywhere? Panel Estimates from PISA. Journal of Development Economics 104: 212-232.

  • 22 January

    Fryer, Roland G., Jr., Steven D. Levitt, John List, Sally Sadoff (2012). Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment. NBER Working Paper 18237. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF (431 KB)