Ifo Center for the Economics of Education

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Ph.D. Course Econometric Evaluation of Education Policies

Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Ludger Wößmann and Dr. Marc Piopiunik

Ph.D. course, open for advanced Master students

Tuesday 3:30-5:00 pm, Bibliothek des Staatswirtschaftlichen Instituts (Ludwigstr. 28 - Vordergebäude) - room 301 (3rd floor)

exception: Tuesday, December 15, 4:00 – 5:30 pm, Prof.-Huber-Pl. 2 (V) - LEHRTURM-V U104

Thursday 6-8 pm (s.t.), Ludwigstr. 28, RG - 024


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 Education
  • B.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

Course Materials


Module E: Reading Sessions

  • 29 October

Fryer, Roland G., Jr., Steven D. Levitt, John List, Sally Sadoff (2012). Enhancing the Efficacy of Teacher Incentives through Loss Aversion: A Field Experiment. NBER Working Paper 18237. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF (431 KB)

  • 5 November

Nagler, Markus, Marc Piopiunik, Martin R. West (2015). Weak Markets, Strong Teachers: Recession at Career Start and Teacher Effectiveness. NBER Working Paper 21393. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF (371 KB)

  • 12 November

Falck, Oliver, Constantin Mang, Ludger Woessmann (2015). Virtually No Effect? Different Uses of Classroom Computers and their Effect on Student Achievement. CESifo Working Paper 5266. Munich: CESifo. PDF (503 KB)

  • 19 November

Baude, Patrick L., Marcus Casey, Eric A. Hanushek, Steven G. Rivkin (2014). The Evolution of Charter School Quality. NBER Working Paper 20645. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF of revised version  (523 KB)

  • 26 November

Chetty, Raj, Nathaniel Hendren, Lawrence F. Katz (2015). The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children: New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment. NBER Working Paper 21156. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF (1256 KB)

  • 3 December

Faber, Benjamin, Rosa Sanchis-Guarner, Felix Weinhardt (2015). ICT and Education: Evidence from Student Home Addresses. NBER Working Paper 21306. Cambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research. PDF (1360 KB)

  • 10 December

Pekkala Kerr, Sari, Tuomas Pekkarinen, Roope Uusitalo (2013). School Tracking and Development of Cognitive Skills. Journal of Labor Economics 31 (3): 577-602. PDF (862 KB)

  • 17 December

Bergman, Peter (2015). Parent-Child Information Frictions and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from a Field Experiment Investment. Mimeo: Teachers College, Columbia University. PDF (478 KB)

  • 7 January

Stephens, Melvin, Jr., Dou-Yan Yang (2014). Compulsory Education and the Benefits of Schooling. American Economic Review 104 (6): 1777-1792. PDF (519 KB)

  • 14 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 (942 KB)

  • 19 January

Chetty, Raj, John 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 (1089 KB)