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How do institutions affect learning inequalities? Revisiting difference-in-difference models with international assessments

Dalit Contini () and Federica Cugnata ()
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Federica Cugnata: University of Turin,

Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers from University of Turin

Abstract: In this contribution, we discuss the difference-in-difference strategies employed in the literature to evaluate the effect of institutional features on learning inequalities exploiting international assessments administered at different age/grades. In their seminal paper, Hanushek and Woessmann (2006) analyze with two-step estimation the effect of early tracking on overall inequalities, measured by variability indexes. Later work of other scholars focuses instead on inequalities among children of different family backgrounds, using individual-level models on data pooled from different countries and assessments. We demonstrate that since test-scores are measured with different scales at different assessments, pooled individual models may deliver severely biased results. Instead, the scaling problem does not affect the two-step approach. For this reason, we advocate the use of two-step estimation also to analyze family-background achievement inequalities. Against this background, using PIRLS-2006 and PISA-2012 we conduct two-step difference-in-difference analyses, finding new evidence that early tracking fosters both overall inequalities and family background differentials in reading literacy.

Pages: pages 41
Date: 2018-10
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-edu
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