Ifo Center for the Economics of Education

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Econometric Evaluation of Education Policies


Prof. Dr. Ludger Woessmann, Dr. Lukas Mergele


Mondays (16-18 c.t.), Wednesdays (10-12 c.t.)

LSF entry


This advanced Master course, which is also designed for Ph.D. students, is a reading-&-paper course. The main part will be that each participant develops her/his own applied paper project, and the main course requirement will be a term paper that should look like the first draft of a small empirical paper. The course is devised to ensure that participants learn about education policy, about evaluation methods, and about (the reality of) how to do applied research. At the same time, it tries to convey the enjoyment of doing economic research and requires participants to be creative and productive.

After a brief introduction on research methods for empirical identification and on selected current topics in education economics, the main part of the course will consist of sessions to discuss papers that everyone has to read in advance and of sessions where everybody presents and discusses her/his ideas and practical problems that turn up while working on it. The main content of the meetings will be well-founded discussions of policy and of research strategies. The specific topics covered in the course will partly be endogenous to the specific interests expressed by participants.
After discussion of the individual project ideas and the final definition of everyone’s empirical project you have 4 weeks working period for finalizing your personal term paper.

Expected preconditions: Econometrics (Master level); Advanced knowledge and interest in applied econometrics; Experience in working with Stata; Willingness to conduct own empirical research

Outline: Course Modules

A. Introduction
A.1 The Course
A.2 The Economics of Education
A.3 Measuring Educational Outcomes

B. Topics in Education Policy
B.1 Introduction
B.2 Educational Production
B.2.1. The Education Production Function
B.2.2. Effects of Class Size and Funding
B.2.3. New Technologies in Education
B.2.4. Teachers and Teaching
B.3 Institutional Structures of School Systems
B.3.1. Institutional Effects: Principals, Agents, and Incentives
B.3.2. Incentives for Teachers and Students
B.3.3. Accountability and Central Exams
B.3.4. School Autonomy
B.3.5. School Choice and Competition
B.3.6. Tracking
B.3.7. Nudging: The Behavioral Economics of Education
B.4 Non-School Input Factors
B.4.1. Families, Intergenerational Mobility, and Inequality
B.4.2. Peer Effects and Social Interaction
B.4.3. Genetic Endowments
B.4.4. Mentoring and Tutoring
B.4.5. The Covid-19 Pandemic
B.5 The Lifecycle of Education Policy
B.5.1. Dynamic Synergies in Skill Formation
B.5.2. Early Childhood Education
B.5.3. Vocational Education and Training
B.5.4. Higher Education
B.5.5. Adult Education and Training

C. Econometric Methods for Policy Evaluation
C.1 Causal Inference from Observational Data
C.2 Instrumental Variables
C.3 Regression Discontinuity
C.4 Differences-in-Differences
C.5 Fixed Effects

D. Paper Writing

E. Reading Sessions

Angrist, Joshua D., Victor Lavy, Jetson Leder-Luis, Adi Shany (2019). Maimonides’ Rule Redux. American Economic Review: Insights 1 (3): 309-324. PDF   Appendix

Arold, Benjamin, Ludger Woessmann, Larissa Zierow (2022). Can Schools Change Religious Attitudes? Evidence from German State Reforms of Compulsory Religious Education. IZA Discussion Paper 14989. Bonn: IZA Institute of Labor Economics. PDF

F. Project Discussions

F.1 Discussion of Project Ideas
F.2 Detailed Project Presentations


Reading List
Slides Module A
Slides Module B
Slides Module C