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The Long Run Human Capital and Economic Consequences of High-Stakes Examinations

Avraham Ebenstein, Victor Lavy () and Sefi Roth

No 10308, CEPR Discussion Papers from C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers

Abstract: Cognitive performance during high-stakes exams can be affected by random disturbances that, even if transitory, may have permanent consequences for long-term schooling attainment and labor market outcomes. We evaluate this hypothesis among Israeli high school students who took a series of high stakes matriculation exams between 2000 and 2002. As a source of random (transitory) shocks to high-stakes matriculation test scores, we use exposure to ambient air pollution during the day of the exam. First, we document a significant and negative relationship between average PM2.5 exposure during exams and student composite scores, post-secondary educational attainment, and earnings during adulthood. Second, using PM2.5 as an instrument, we estimate a large economic return to each point on the exam and each additional year of post-secondary education. Third, we examine the return to exam scores and schooling across sub-populations, and find the largest effects among boys, better students, and children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds. The results suggest that random disturbances during high-stakes examinations can have long-term consequences for schooling and labor market outcomes, while also highlighting the drawbacks of using highstakes examinations in university admissions.

Date: 2014-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu and nep-hrm
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