Can Mentoring Alleviate Family Disadvantage in Adolescence? A Field Experiment to Improve Labor-Market Prospects
Journal of Political Economy,
We study a mentoring program that aims to improve the labor-market prospects of school-attending adolescents from disadvantaged families by offering them a university-student mentor. Our RCT investigates program effectiveness on three outcome dimensions that are highly predictive of later labor-market success: math grades, patience/social skills, and labor-market orientation. For low-SES adolescents, the mentoring increases a combined index of the outcomes by over half a standard deviation after one year, with significant increases in each dimension. Part of the treatment effect is mediated by establishing mentors as attachment figures who provide guidance for the future. Effects on grades and labor-market orientation, but not on patience/social skills, persist three years after program start. By that time, the mentoring also improves early realizations of school-to-work transitions for low-SES adolescents. The mentoring is not effective for higher-SES adolescents. The results show that substituting lacking family support by other adults can help disadvantaged children at adolescent age.
Why Is the Roy-Borjas Model Unable to Predict International Migrant Selection on Education? Evidence from Urban and Rural Mexico
IWH Discussion Papers,
The Roy-Borjas model predicts that international migrants are less educated than nonmigrants because the returns to education are generally higher in developing (migrant-sending) than in developed (migrant-receiving) countries. However, empirical evidence often shows the opposite. Using the case of Mexico-U.S. migration, we show that this inconsistency between predictions and empirical evidence can be resolved when the human capital of migrants is assessed using a two-dimensional measure of occupational skills rather than by educational attainment. Thus, focusing on a single skill dimension when investigating migrant selection can lead to misleading conclusions about the underlying economic incentives and behavioral models of migration.
Behavioral Barriers and the Socioeconomic Gap in Child Care Enrollment
CESifo Working Paper,
Children with lower socioeconomic status (SES) tend to benefit more from early child care, but are substantially less likely to be enrolled. We study whether reducing behavioral barriers in the application process increases enrollment in child care for lower-SES children. In our RCT in Germany with highly subsidized child care (n > 600), treated families receive application information and personal assistance for applications. For lower-SES families, the treatment increases child care application rates by 21 pp and enrollment rates by 16 pp. Higher-SES families are not affected by the treatment. Thus, alleviating behavioral barriers closes half of the SES gap in early child care enrollment.
Africa’s Skill Tragedy
Journal of Human Resources,
We study the importance of teacher subject knowledge for student performance in Sub-Saharan Africa using unique international assessment data for sixth-grade students and their teachers. To circumvent bias due to unobserved student heterogeneity, we exploit variation within students across math and reading. Teacher subject knowledge has a modest impact on student performance. Exploiting vast cross-country differences in economic development, we find that teacher knowledge is effective only in more developed African countries. Results are robust to adding teacher fixed effects and accounting for potential sorting based on subject-specific factors.
Imputation Rules for the Implementation of the Pre-unification Education Variable in the BASiD Data Set
Journal for Labour Market Research,
Using combined data from the German Pension Insurance and the Federal Employment Agency (BASiD), this study proposes different procedures for imputing the pre-unification education variable in the BASiD data. To do so, we exploit information on education-related periods that are creditable for the Pension Insurance. Combining these periods with information on the educational system in the former GDR, we propose three different imputation procedures, which we validate using external GDR census data for selected age groups. A common result from all procedures is that they tend to underpredict (overpredict) the share of high-skilled (low-skilled) for the oldest age groups. Comparing our imputed education variable with information on educational attainment from the Integrated Employment Biographies (IEB) reveals that the best match is obtained for the vocational training degree. Although regressions show that misclassification with respect to IEB information is clearly related to observables, we do not find any systematic pattern across skill groups.
Skills, Earnings, and Employment: Exploring Causality in the Estimation of Returns to Skills
Large-scale Assessments in Education,
Ample evidence indicates that a person’s human capital is important for success on the labor market in terms of both wages and employment prospects. However, unlike the efforts to identify the impact of school attainment on labor-market outcomes, the literature on returns to cognitive skills has not yet provided convincing evidence that the estimated returns can be causally interpreted. Using the PIAAC Survey of Adult Skills, this paper explores several approaches that aim to address potential threats to causal identification of returns to skills, in terms of both higher wages and better employment chances. We address measurement error by exploiting the fact that PIAAC measures skills in several domains. Furthermore, we estimate instrumental-variable models that use skill variation stemming from school attainment and parental education to circumvent reverse causation. Results show a strikingly similar pattern across the diverse set of countries in our sample. In fact, the instrumental-variable estimates are consistently larger than those found in standard least-squares estimations. The same is true in two “natural experiments,” one of which exploits variation in skills from changes in compulsory-schooling laws across U.S. states. The other one identifies technologically induced variation in broadband Internet availability that gives rise to variation in ICT skills across German municipalities. Together, the results suggest that least-squares estimates may provide a lower bound of the true returns to skills in the labor market.
Paternal Unemployment During Childhood: Causal Effects on Youth Worklessness and Educational Attainment
Oxford Economic Papers,
Using long-running data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (1984–2012), we investigate the impact of paternal unemployment on child labour market and education outcomes. We first describe correlation patterns and then use sibling fixed effects and the Gottschalk (1996) method to identify the causal effects of paternal unemployment. We find different patterns for sons and daughters. Paternal unemployment does not seem to causally affect the outcomes of sons. In contrast, it increases both daughters’ worklessness and educational attainment. We test the robustness of the results and explore potential explanations.
Urban Agglomeration and CEO Compensation
Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis,
We examine the relation between the agglomeration of firms around big cities and chief executive officer (CEO) compensation. We find a positive relation among the metropolitan size of a firm’s headquarters, the total and equity portion of its CEO’s pay, and the quality of CEO educational attainment. We also find that CEOs gradually increase their human capital in major metropolitan areas and are rewarded for this upon relocation to smaller cities. Taken together, the results suggest that urban agglomeration reflects local network spillovers and faster learning of skilled individuals, for which firms are willing to pay a premium and which are therefore important factors in CEO compensation.