Two essays on students' homework time in high school Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • McMullen, Steven
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
  • In the first essay I use nationally representative panel data on student behavior and academic performance to test two possible policy reforms. First, I examine a policy that increases the amount of homework that students complete. Second, I examine the impact of increasing the amount of homework assigned. Previous studies have not been able to consistently estimate the impact of homework because of important omitted variables and measurement error, which strongly bias the estimated impact of homework time. This paper, however, uses an instrumental variables approach with student fixed effects to account for both time-varying and time-invariant unobserved characteristics and inputs. This approach produces estimates of the impact of homework time on academic achievement that are much larger than those of previous studies. Also, when compared to popular policy changes such as decreasing class size or increasing teachers’ wages, a policy of assigning more homework is found to be the most cost effective policy tool. Finally, these findings suggest that assigning additional homework primarily improves the achievement of low performing students and students in low performing schools. Thus, assigning more homework could help close the gap in achievement between high and low performing students. The second essay examines the extent to which high school students respond to education and labor market incentives when making decisions about homework, and whether or not to drop out of high school. Student and state fixed effects estimators as well as a discrete time hazard model are used to estimate these effects. I find that students’ choices about homework and enrollment both respond to labor market incentives in similar ways. Students are less likely to drop out of high school and complete more homework when more education-intensive industries are present in their state. Higher unemployment rates are associated with lower dropout probabilities and a decrease in the amount of homework completed. Finally, young women, low income students, and low achieving students increase their enrollment and homework time in response to a higher minimum wage.
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  • In Copyright
  • Mroz, Thomas A.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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