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Category Archives: I2

Analyzing Student and Family-Level Effects on a Family’s Contributions to Fund a College Education

By Justin T. Rosenblum and John H. Zipf

We investigate the efficiency of the current financial aid system for prospective college students. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form reviews a family’s financial information and universities review a student’s academic prowess, but neither fully examines students and their family’s qualitative factors such as parents’ highest education level or intended major. Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, we investigate academic, financial, and familial characteristics to determine if they impact a student’s level of private loans relative to their total cost of attendance. We find that students with parents who did not receive a college degree are adversely affected by the current financial aid system. In particular, these students take out a greater amount of private loans relative to their total cost of attendance all else equal. Our finding has wider policy implications; changing the current financial aid system to assist disadvantaged students could help reduce intergenerational education inequalities. In addition, colleges could reach a broader range of students by helping
the students that currently struggle the most to pay tuition.

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Advisors: Michelle Connolly, Hugh Macartney and Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: I2, I22, I23

Benefit Spillovers and Higher Education Financing: An Empirical Analysis of Brain Drain and State-Level Investment in Public Universities

By Chinmany G. Pandit

This paper analyzes the impact of out-migration of college graduates on state higher education investment. A three-stage least squares regression model with state and year fixed effects is developed and estimated, addressing the relationship between state legislative appropriations, tuition, and educated out-migration across 49 U.S. states from 2006-2015. The results support the notion that states respond negatively to benefit spillovers in higher education: for every one percent increase in the rate of educated out-migration, state appropriations decrease by 1.92 percent (roughly $140 per student). These findings suggest that an education subsidy
provided to states may be necessary to prevent underinvestment in higher education.

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Advisor: Thomas Nechyba | JEL Codes: H7, H75, I22, I28, R23

Measuring the Long-term Effects of Orphanhood

By Nicholas Thomas Gardner

This paper works towards developing the narrative of orphans whose parent or parents died from natural disaster. By taking advantage of the unanticipated nature of death from the 2004
Indonesian tsunami, orphanhood can be treated as much closer to random than similar literature using data centered on HIV/AIDS related deaths. We use a community level fixed effects model to attempt to derive a causal relationship between orphanhood and both education and log wages. Our models suggest that orphaned males aged 14 and older at baseline complete 1-2 fewer years of education than their cohorts. The adverse effects persist in the long-term, as these orphans earn 26% less than non-orphan cohorts.

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Advisors: Duncan Thomas and Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: I24, I25, I31, J24, J31

Determinants of SAT Scores in North Carolina

By Abby Snyder

This paper examines the effects of different school and district characteristics on SAT scores across North Carolina from 2007 to 2014. Such characteristics include demographics, poverty and wealth indicators, measures of classroom environment, and achievement levels. A pooled time series panel across districts and schools with fixed effects is used to determine the strength of influence these variables have on scores. Ultimately, this paper identifies which characteristics lead to over or underperformance relative to predicted values; further, it considers the implications of the SAT being more of an “achievement” test versus an “aptitude” test.

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Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: I2, I24 | Tagged: Achievement Gap, Aptitude Test, Education, SAT

Early Identification of Students at Risk for High School Dropout

By Derek Lindsey

For years, many have hoped to identify why high school students drop out. Typically, studies focus on factors identified in high school or middle school. By tracking a cohort of North Carolina students from third grade onward, we attempt to identify areas for intervention even earlier in order to prevent dropouts. Indeed, we find that variables that can be viewed as indicators of high risk for drop out in middle school are already measurably present as early as third grade. This suggests interventions can begin when students are still very young and when treatment is likely to be more effective.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Thomas Nechyba | JEL Codes: I2, I20 | Tagged: Dropout, Education, Elementary School, Graduation, High School, Middle School

Implications of Teacher Tenure on Teacher Quality and Student Performance in North Carolina

By Dana Fenster

This paper examines the relationship between teacher tenure and teacher quality in North Carolina, measured via student performance on the state End of Grade (EOG) standardized tests. After presenting a comprehensive synopsis of the current teacher tenure policy, I use data from the North Carolina Education Research Data Center (NCERDC) to compare demonstrated teacher effectiveness across the tenure bubble, defined as one to eight years of teaching experience within the same district. Ultimately, I find that there is significant jump in average teacher quality at the tenure cutoff, suggesting that tenure policy is effective in retaining high quality teachers while removing those who are ineffective.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Hugh Macartney | JEL Codes: I21, J24, J41, M5 | Tagged: Economics of Education, Labor Economics, Teacher Tenure

The Impact of Greek Affiliation on Grades and Course Selection

By Andrew De Donato

We seek to understand how affiliating with a Greek organization impacts both grades and course selection. This research provides a novel addition to the literature due to a unique situation at the sample university, in that the first opportunity for freshmen to join Greek organizations occurs in the spring semester rather than the fall, as is more common. This situation allows us to control for otherwise unobserved characteristics that may be common to those who affiliate with Greek organizations. For men, joining a Greek organization is associated with a .07 point decrease in the grade received for an average class, while, for women, it is associated with an increase of .02 points in the fall semester and a decrease of .06 points in the spring semester. Joining a Greek organization is also associated with a decrease in the difficulty of selected courses, such that the average course selected provides grades that are .03 points higher than the average course, controlling for enrolled student characteristics.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Michelle Connolly, Peter Arcidiacon | JEL Codes: I, I21, I23, I24 | Tagged: Course Selection, Fraternity, GPA, Grades, Greek, Sorority

Federal and Industrial Funded Research Expenditures and University Technology Transfer licensing

By Trent Chiang

In this paper I relate the numbers of university licenses and options to both university research characteristics and research expenditures from federal government or industrial sources. I apply the polynomial distributed lag model for unbalanced panel data to understand the effects of research expenditures from different sources on licensing activity. We find evidence suggesting both federal and industrial funded research expenditures take 2-3 years from lab to licenses while federal expenditures have higher long-term dynamic effect. Break down licenses by different types of partners, we found that federal expenditures have highest effect with small companies and licenses generating high income. Further research is necessary to analyze the reason for such difference.

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Advisor: David Ridley, Henry Grabowski | JEL Codes: I23, L31, O31, O32, O38 | Tagged: Innovation, Research Expenditures, Science Policy, Technology Transfer

Foreign Aid Allocation and Impact: A Sub-National Analysis of Malawi

By Rajlakshmi De

Understanding the role of foreign aid in poverty alleviation is one of the central inquiries for development economics. To augment past cross-country studies and randomized evaluations, this project data from Malawi is used in combination with multiple rounds of living standards data to predict the allocation and impact of health aid, water aid, and education aid.  Both instrumentation and propensity score matching methods are used.

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Advisor: Kent Kimbrough, Lori Leachman | JEL Codes: F35, I15, I25, I32, O12 | Tagged: Development, Education, Foreign Aid, Health, Malawi, Water

An Assessment of Teach for America Effectiveness and Spillover Effects in North Carolina

By Thomas Burr

Teach for America, while a relatively small cog in the grand scheme of education reform in America, has become something of a flashpoint for debate between the educational establishment and a new generation of reformers. In the first part of this research, I add to a growing number of studies on the effectiveness of TFA teachers by preforming regression analysis of student outcomes in grades 3-5 in North Carolina from 1995-2009 and find that, as measured by end of grade (EOG) math and reading test scores, first-year TFA teachers produce gains that are statistically indistinguishable from experienced teachers and approximately .09 standard deviations higher than other first-year teachers in math and .05 standard deviations higher in reading. In the second part of this research, I build off of Jackson and Bruegmann (2009), who for the first time showed evidence of peer effects between teachers, meaning that the outcomes of your own students can be affected by the quality of the other teachers in your grade. After confirming the results of Jackson/Bruegmann with three additional years of data, I add TFA status as an additional observable characteristic into the equation and find a statistically significant and positive effect to having a peer TFA teacher in your grade across several models.

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Advisor: Thomas Nechyba | JEL Codes: I2, J24 | Tagged: Education, Peer Effects, Spillover, Teach for America

Questions?

Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker
dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu