Mouganie, Pierre Edward (2015-08). Three Essays in the Economics of Education. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • This dissertation introduces three essays on the short and long run consequences of educational choices. In the first essay "Conscription and the Returns to Education: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity" we use a regression discontinuity design to first identify the effect of peacetime conscription on education and labor market outcomes. Results indicate that conscription eligibility induces a significant increase in years of education, which is consistent with conscription avoidance behavior. However, this increased education does not result in either an increase in graduation rates, or in employment and wages. Additional evidence shows conscription has no direct effect on earnings, suggesting that the returns to education induced by this policy was zero. In the second essay "Quality of Higher Education and Earnings: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the French Baccalaureate", we use a regression discontinuity design to examine the returns to quality of postsecondary education. We compare the outcomes of students who marginally pass and fail the first round exams of the French Baccalaureate, a degree that students must earn to graduate from secondary school. Marginally passing increases the likelihood of attending a higher quality university and a STEM major. Threshold crossing also increases earnings by 13.6 percent at the age of 27 to 29. After ruling out other channels that could affect earnings, we conclude that increased access to higher quality postsecondary education leads to a significant earnings premium. In the third and final essay "Better or Best? High School Quality and Academic Performance" we look at the effects of attending a higher quality high school on the academic performance and college outcomes of young Chinese students. Specifically, in our analysis, we draw a distinction between going to a better school, regardless of tier, and going to a top-tier school. We find that college entrance exam test score gains and improved college outcomes are only realized for individuals attending the most elite set of high schools. These results are mainly driven by males as we find no significant effects on academic performance for females. Finally, we provide evidence suggesting that these academic gains are mostly due to variation in teacher quality.
  • This dissertation introduces three essays on the short and long run consequences of educational choices. In the first essay "Conscription and the Returns to Education: Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity" we use a regression discontinuity design to first identify the effect of peacetime conscription on education and labor market outcomes. Results indicate that conscription eligibility induces a significant increase in years of education, which is consistent with conscription avoidance behavior. However, this increased education does not result in either an increase in graduation rates, or in employment and wages. Additional evidence shows conscription has no direct effect on earnings, suggesting that the returns to education induced
    by this policy was zero.

    In the second essay "Quality of Higher Education and Earnings: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from the French Baccalaureate", we use a regression discontinuity design to examine the returns to quality of postsecondary education. We compare the outcomes of students who marginally pass and fail the first round exams of the French Baccalaureate, a degree that students must earn to graduate from secondary school. Marginally passing increases the likelihood of attending a higher quality university and a STEM major. Threshold crossing also increases earnings by 13.6 percent at the age of 27 to 29. After ruling out other channels that could affect earnings, we conclude that increased access to higher quality postsecondary education leads to a significant earnings premium.

    In the third and final essay "Better or Best? High School Quality and Academic Performance" we look at the effects of attending a higher quality high school on the academic performance and college outcomes of young Chinese students. Specifically, in our analysis, we draw a distinction between going to a better school, regardless of tier, and going to a top-tier school. We find that college entrance exam test score gains and improved college outcomes are only realized for individuals attending the most elite set of high schools. These results are mainly driven by males as we find no significant effects on academic performance for females. Finally, we provide evidence suggesting that these academic gains are mostly due to variation in teacher quality.

publication date

  • August 2015