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Confidence and Cognition - Steve Lehrer & Estimating Context-Independent Treatment Effects in Education Experiments - Weili Ding (NYU Shanghai)

Date & Time:
June 5, 2015 | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
SS 423
Steve Lehrer  & Weili Ding - School of Policy Studies, Queen's University and NYU Shanghai 

"Confidence and Cognition: Tracking the Effects of Skill Development on Post-Secondary School Choice and Early Labour Market Outcomes"

Steven F. Lehrer - Queen's University and NBER

ABSTRACT:   Using the Youth in Transition Survey (YITS-A) we estimate a Roy model with a two dimensional latent factor structure to consider how both cognitive and non-cognitive skills influence endogenous schooling decisions and subsequent labour market outcomes
in Canada. Our estimates indicate that non-cognitive skills play a role in determining income at age 25 that is on par with that of cognitive skills. Our analysis demonstrates that it is crucial to account for the dynamics in decision making since this demonstrates that the effect of cognitive skills on adult incomes arises by one increasing the likelihood of obtaining further education. Conditioning on the choice to complete a university degree, cognitive skills are found to play no additional role in determining earnings at age 25. In contrast, non-cognitive skills not only indirectly influence adult income through the channel of educational choice, but they are directly rewarded in the labour market. Last, evidence from policy simulations suggest that equal attention should be given to policies that cultivate different dimensions of non-cognitive skills as those that focus solely on cognitive skills.

"Estimating Context-Independent Treatment Effects in Education Experiments"

Weili Ding  - Queen's University

ABSTRACT:  In this study, we first document that the magnitude of the estimated treatment effect in Project STAR is substantially larger in schools where fewer students were assigned to small classes. The differences in student performance across schools cannot be explained by failure in randomization, other observed school level characteristics or differences in selective test taking. Further, we show that these achievement gains are driven by students in small classes from schools where fewer students were in small classes. The results are suggestive that there was a proportionate change in motivation or effort by teachers who teach small classes but not in regular classes.
Second, we introduce two empirical strategies for experimental studies that aims at disentangling the pure educational effect from a specific treatment from that which is attributable to the interaction between the treatment and the social context in which the experiment takes place. One strategy nonparametrically identifies the two components and others uses minimal structural assumptions we disentangle the
estimated treatment effect into components that are context specific and context independent. Irrespective of the strategy, our results indicate that between 50-70% of the estimated treatment effect in Project STAR is context specific.

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