Essays on the Economics of Education
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Slungaard Mumma, Kirsten
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CitationSlungaard Mumma, Kirsten. 2021. Essays on the Economics of Education. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation consists of three essays in the economics of education.
The first essay considers the impact of charter school openings on student achievement, behavior, and demographics in the traditional public sector. Using longitudinal school- and student-level data, I estimate the effect of charter school openings on traditional public schools in Massachusetts and North Carolina by comparing schools near actual charter sites to those near proposed charter sites that were never ultimately occupied. I find that charter openings reduce public school enrollment by around 5 percent. I find no impact of charter openings on student achievement in math or ELA, and my 95 percent confidence interval rules out effects larger than 0.05 standard deviations in either direction. I find no effects on attendance or suspensions.
The second and third essays contribute to the literatures on immigrant integration, education, and language skills. The second essay, which is co-authored with Blake Heller, considers the effect of English language training on the civic and economic outcomes of adult immigrants in Massachusetts. Using a randomized enrollment lottery for one of the largest public adult English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs in the state, we estimate the causal effect of English language training on voting behavior and employer-reported earnings. We find that attending ESOL classes more than doubles rates of voter registration and increases annual earnings by $2,400. We show that increased tax revenue from earnings gains fully pay for program costs over time, generating a 6% return for taxpayers.
The third essay considers the effect of English language skills on the civic integration of childhood immigrants in the United States. Using an age-at-arrival instrumental variable strategy, I identify the causal effect of English language skills on multiple measures of civic engagement, including naturalization, voting behavior, military service, volunteerism, and neighborhood cohesion. I find that English ability positively affects the probability of naturalization (men), military service, and volunteerism but find no effects on voter registration or neighborhood cohesion. I find suggestive evidence that the effect of language skills on naturalization is mediated in part by the effect of English skills on educational attainment.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368219
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