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Ph.D. Course Econometric Evaluation of Education Policies

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Ludger Woessmann and Philipp Lergetporer, Ph.D.

Ph.D. course, open for advanced Master students

Tuesday 4-6 pm and Thursday 10-12 am, Lecture Room V 005 (Prof.-Huber-Platz 2)



Expected preconditions: Econometrics knowledge at level of MSc course; Experience in working with Stata; Willingness to conduct own empirical research

This Ph.D. course, which is open for advanced Master students, is not a traditional lecture course, but rather a reading-&-paper course. The main part of the course is that each participant develops her/his own applied paper project, and the main course requirement is not a traditional exam, but instead a term paper that should look like the first draft of a small empirical paper, plus a presentation.

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. Even though it is fun to do sound research, it also requires (a lot of) work; thus, participants are expected to work on the topic throughout the semester, not just in preparing an exam.

After a brief introduction on research methods for empirical identification and on selected hot topics in the economics of education, the main part of the course consists of sessions to discuss papers that everyone has read in advance and of sessions where everybody presents and discusses his/her ongoing paper project, new ideas and practical problems that turn up while working on it. The specific topics covered in the course will partly be endogenous to the specific interests expressed by participants.

Outline: Course Modules

A. Introduction

  • A.1 The Course
  • A.2 Topics in the Economics of Education
  • A.3 Why an Economics of Education Policy?
  • A.4 The Econometrics of Policy Evaluation
  • A.5 Measuring Educational Outcomes

B. Topics in Education Policy

  • B.1 Educational Production, Class-Size Effects, and Funding
  • B.2 New Technologies in Education
  • B.3 Teachers and Teaching
  • B.4 Performance Incentives for Teachers and Students
  • B.5 Accountability and Central Exams
  • B.6 School Autonomy
  • B.7 School Choice and Competition
  • B.8 Nudges: The Behavioral Economics of Education
  • B.9 Families and Intergenerational Mobility
  • B.10 Peer Effects and Social Interaction
  • B.11 Tracking
  • B.12 Early Childhood Education Programs
  • B.13 Vocational Education and Training
  • B.14 Higher EducationB.15 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

F. Project Discussions

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



Module E: Reading Sessions

  • 2 November

Angrist, Joshua D., Victor Lavy, Jetson Leder-Luis, Adi Shany (2017). Maimonides Rule Redux. NBER Working Paper 23486. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF (562 KB)

  • 9 November

Lafortune, Julien, Jesse Rothstein, Diane W. Schanzenbach (2017). School Finance Reform and the Distribution of Student Achievement. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, forthcoming. PDF (4693 KB)

  • 14 November

Andrietti, Vincenzo (2016). The Causal Effects of an Intensified Curriculum on Cognitive Skills: Evidence from a Natural Experiment. UC3M WP Economic Series 16-06, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. PDF (789 KB)

  • 21 November

Falck, Oliver, Constantin Mang, Ludger Woessmann (2017). Virtually No Effect? Different Uses of Classroom Computers and their Effect on Student Achievement. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, forthcoming. PDF (152 KB)

  • 30 November

Bettinger, Eric P., Lindsay Fox, Susanna Loeb, Eric S. Taylor (2017). Virtual Classrooms: How Online College Courses Affect Student Success. American Economic Review 107 (9): 2855-2875. PDF (536 KB)

  • 7 December

Bettinger, Eric P., Bridget Terry Long, Philip Oreopoulos, Lisa Sanbonmatsu (2012). The Role of Application Assistance and Information in College Decisions: Results from the H&R Block FAFSA Experiment. Quarterly Journal of Economics 127 (3): 1205-1242. PDF (200 KB)

  • 14 December

Havnes, Tarjei, Magne Mogstad (2015). Is Universal Child Care Leveling the Playing Field? Journal of Public Economics 127: 100-114. PDF (882 KB)

  • 21 December

Abdulkadiroğlu, Atila, Joshua D. Angrist, Susan M. Dynarski, Thomas J. Kane, Parag A. Pathak (2011). Accountability and Flexibility in Public Schools: Evidence from Boston's Charters and Pilots. Quarterly Journal of Economics 126 (2): 699-748. PDF (466 KB)

  • 11 January

Hanushek, Eric A., Susanne Link, Ludger Woessmann (2013). Does School Autonomy Make Sense Everywhere? Panel Estimates from PISA. Journal of Development Economics 104: 212-232. PDF (962 KB)

  • 18 January

Chetty, Raj, John N. Friedman, Jonah Rockoff (2014). Measuring the impacts of teachers II: Teacher value-added and student outcomes in adulthood. American Economic Review 104 (9): 2633–2679. PDF (2 MB)

  • 1 February

Bleemer, Zachary, Basit Zafar (2018). Intended college attendance: Evidence from an experiment on college returns and costs. Journal of Public Economics: forthcoming. PDF (1 MB)

  • 8 February

Schwerdt, Guido, Martin R. West, Marcus A. Winters (2017). The effects of test-based retention on student outcomes over time: Regression discontinuity evidence from Florida. Journal of Public Economics 152: 154-169. PDF 620 KB)