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Long-term Contextual Effects in Education: Schools and Neighborhoods

by Laliberté, Jean-William

To what extent do differences in educational outcomes across neighborhoods reflect discrepancies in local school quality? This paper decomposes total childhood exposure effects -- the causal effect of growing up in a better area -- into separate school and non-school neighborhood components. To do so, it brings together two research designs. First, I implement a spatial regression-discontinuity design to estimate school effects. Second, I study students who move across neighborhoods in Montreal during childhood to estimate total exposure effects. I find that total exposure effects on educational attainment are large, but that between 50% and 70% of the long-term benefits of moving to a better area are due to access to better schools rather than to neighborhoods themselves.

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