Essays in Education and Development Economics
MetadataShow full item record
CitationMajerowicz, Stephanie. 2019. Essays in Education and Development Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractDespite large improvements in access to schooling across developing countries, there are large remaining gaps in educational quality: many students are in school but not learning. This dissertation explores how to improve the quality of education in developing countries through interventions at three levels: the classroom, school-system and local government.
Chapter 1 presents experimental evidence that a national teacher coaching program in Peru improved learning outcomes for all students. Using a combination of experimental and non-experimental techniques to account for teacher rotation, we show that the program effects persist for at least one year after the training ends and, when treated teachers move, students benefit from the arrival of the trained teacher as much as students in the original school did. This suggests that the program is building up the human capital of teachers, rather than simply monitoring teacher presence or effort, and that this human capital is portable and persistent.
Chapter 2 explores the impact of an expansion of preschool education in Peru on early learning outcomes of students. Exploiting within family variation in exposure to preschool, I find that having access to regular preschools improves learning outcomes, while community preschools do not. Moreover, I find that preschool benefits poorer students less, so that preschool appears to widen rather than close socioeconomic learning gaps.
Chapter 3 explores whether the decentralization of local government services improves their delivery through a natural experiment in Colombia that decentralized the administration of education to municipalities with over 100,000 inhabitants. Through a regression discontinuity, I find that on average decentralization worsens educational outcomes for municipalities close to the threshold, but this is largely driven by municipalities with very low state capacity and poor electoral accountability. Better-educated and wealthier municipalities, and those with more competitive elections perform better under decentralization, suggesting the potential for electoral accountability in disciplining local politicians.
Overall, my dissertation shows that even in the face of the serious implementation challenges that governments face when rolling out programs at scale, there are concrete actions that can be taken to improve the quality of education in developing countries.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029654
- FAS Theses and Dissertations