Does Remedial Education at Late Childhood Pays Off After All? Long-Run Consequences for University Schooling, Labor Market Outcomes and Inter-Generational Mobility -- by Victor Lavy, Assaf Kott, Genia Rachkovski
We analyze in this paper the long term effect of a high school remedial education program, almost two decades after its implementation. We combine high school records with National Social Security administrative data to examine longer-term outcomes when students were in their early 30s. Our evidence suggest that treated students experienced a 10 percentage points increase in completed years of college schooling, an increase in annual earnings of 4 percentage points, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in months employed, and a significant increase in intergenerational income mobility. These gains are reflecting mainly improvement in outcomes of students from below median income families. Therefore, we conclude that remedial education program that targeted underachieving students in their last year of high school had gains that went much beyond the short term significant improvements in high school matriculation exams. A cost benefit analysis of the program suggests that the government will recover its cost within 7-8 years, implying a very high rate of return to this remedial education program.
Revealing Stereotypes: Evidence from Immigrants in Schools -- by Alberto Alesina, Michela Carlana, Eliana La Ferrara, Paolo Pinotti
If individuals become aware of their stereotypes, do they change their behavior? We study this question in the context of teachers' bias in grading immigrants and native children in middle schools. Teachers give lower grades to immigrant students compared to natives who have the same performance on standardized, blindly-graded tests. We then relate differences in grading to teachers' stereotypes, elicited through an Implicit Association Test (IAT). We find that math teachers with stronger stereotypes give lower grades to immigrants compared to natives with the same performance. Literature teachers do not differentially grade immigrants based on their own stereotypes. Finally, we share teachers' own IAT score with them, randomizing the timing of disclosure around the date on which they assign term grades. All teachers informed of their stereotypes before term grading increase grades assigned to immigrants. Revealing stereotypes may be a powerful intervention to decrease discrimination, but it may also induce a reaction from individuals who were not acting in a biased way.
We estimate the uncertainty effects of preferential trade disagreements. Increases in the probability of Britain's exit from the European Union (Brexit) reduce bilateral export values and trade participation. These effects are increasing in trade policy risk across products and asymmetric for UK and EU exporters. We estimate that a persistent doubling of the probability of Brexit at the average disagreement tariff of 4.5% lowers EU-UK bilateral export values by 15 log points on average, and more so for EU than UK exporters. Neither believed a trade war was likely.
Who's Minding the Kids? Experimental Evidence on the Demand for Child Care Quality -- by James Gordon, Chris M. Herbst, Erdal Tekin
Despite the well-documented benefits of high-quality child care, many preschool-age children in the U.S. attend low-quality programs. Accordingly, improving the quality of child care is increasingly an explicit goal of government policy. However, accomplishing this goal requires a thorough understanding of the factors that influence parents' child care decisions. This paper provides the first credible evidence on the demand for child care characteristics in the market for home-based care. Using a randomized audit design, we study three dimensions of caregiving: affordability (i.e., the hourly price of child care), quality (i.e., caregiver education and experience), and convenience (i.e., caregiver car ownership and availability). We find that while parents are extremely sensitive to the cost of child care, they also have strong preferences for quality, particularly caregivers' educational attainment. Furthermore, we obtain mixed results on the convenience dimensions of child care, with parents valuing those owning a car but not those with more availability. Finally, we find significant heterogeneity in child care preferences according to families' age of youngest child, race and ethnicity, and willingness-to-pay. Our findings suggest that the child care market's quality problems may be driven by parents' inability to afford high-quality care or their lack of informational resources on how to identify such programs, rather than an unwillingness to pay for them.
Expectations Uncertainty and Household Economic Behavior -- by Itzhak Ben-David, Elyas Fermand, Camelia M. Kuhnen, Geng Li
We show that there exists significant heterogeneity across US households in how uncertain they are in their expectations regarding personal and macroeconomic outcomes, and that uncertainty in expectations predicts households' choices. Individuals with lower income or education, more precarious finances, and living in counties with higher unemployment are more uncertain in their expectations regarding own-income growth, inflation, and national home price changes. People with more uncertain expectations, even accounting for their socioeconomic characteristics, exhibit more precaution in their consumption, credit, and investment behaviors.
We study the impact of evaluating the performance of asset managers relative to a benchmark portfolio on firms' investment, merger and IPO decisions. We introduce asset managers into an otherwise standard asset pricing model and show that firms that are part of the benchmark are effectively subsidized by the asset managers. This "benchmark inclusion subsidy" arises because asset managers have incentives to hold some of the equity of firms in the benchmark regardless of the risk characteristics of these firms. Contrary to what is usually taught in corporate finance, we show that the value of an investment project is not governed solely by its own cash-flow risk. Instead, because of the benchmark inclusion subsidy, a firm inside the benchmark would accept some projects that an identical one outside the benchmark would decline. The two types of firms' incentives to undertake mergers or spinoffs also differ and the presence of the subsidy can alter a decision to take a firm public. We show that the higher the cash-flow risk of an investment, the larger the benchmark inclusion subsidy; the subsidy is zero for safe projects. Benchmarking also leads fundamental firm-level cash-flow correlations to rise. We review a host of empirical evidence that is consistent with the implications of the model.
The Effect of Economic Conditions on the Disability Insurance Program: Evidence from the Great Recession -- by Nicole Maestas, Kathleen J. Mullen, Alexander Strand
We examine the effect of cyclical job displacement during the Great Recession on the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Exploiting variation in the severity and timing of the recession across states, we estimate the effect of unemployment on SSDI applications and awards. We find the Great Recession induced nearly one million SSDI applications that otherwise would not have been filed, of which 41.8 percent were awarded benefits, resulting in over 400,000 new beneficiaries who made up 8.9 percent of all SSDI entrants between 2008-2012. More than one-half of the recession-induced awards were made on appeal. The induced applicants had less severe impairments than the average applicant. Only 9 percent had the most severe, automatically-qualifying impairments, 33 percent had functional impairments and no transferable skills, and the rest were denied for having insufficiently severe impairments and/or transferable skills. Our estimates imply the Great Recession increased claims processing costs by $2.960 billion during 2008-2012, and SSDI benefit obligations by $55.730 billion in present value, or $97.365 billion including both SSDI and Medicare benefits.
Decompositions and Policy Consequences of an Extraordinary Decline in Air Pollution from Electricity Generation -- by Stephen P. Holland, Erin T. Mansur, Nicholas Muller, Andrew J. Yates
We determine the change in air pollution damages from U.S. power plant emissions over 2010 to 2017. Annual damages fell from $245 billion to $133 billion over this period, with most of the decline occurring in the East. Decomposition shows that changes in emissions rates reduced damages by $63 billion, changes in generation shares reduced damages by $60 billion, and a reduction in fossil generation reduced damages by $25 billion. However, changes in damage valuations per ton of emissions increased damages by $35 billion. We estimate that marginal damages declined in the East from about 9¢ per kWh in 2010 to 6¢ in 2017. This decrease is slower than the decrease in total damages. Despite little or no change in total damages in the West and Texas, marginal damages increased. The environmental benefit of electric vehicles increased so that they are now cleaner than gasoline vehicles on average, though substantial heterogeneity remains. The environmental benefit of solar panels decreased in the East but increased elsewhere.
This paper shows that the inability to use monetary policy for macroeconomic stabilization leaves a government more vulnerable to a rollover crisis. We study a sovereign default model with self-fulfilling rollover crises, foreign currency debt, and nominal rigidities. When the government lacks monetary autonomy, lenders anticipate that the government will face a severe recession in the event of a liquidity crisis, and are therefore more prone to run on government bonds. By contrast, a government with monetary autonomy can stabilize the economy and can easily remain immune to a rollover crisis. In a quantitative application, we find that the lack of monetary autonomy played a central role in making the Eurozone vulnerable to a rollover crisis. A lender of last resort can help ease the costs from giving up monetary independence.
The Price of Biodiesel RINs and Economic Fundamentals -- by Scott H. Irwin, Kristen McCormack, James H. Stock
The D4 RIN is the tradable compliance certificate for the biomass-based diesel mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Understanding the price dynamics of the D4 RIN is important for understanding the RFS because its price sets a ceiling on the ethanol RIN (D6) and because some observers have suggested that RIN price fluctuations are too large to be explained by economic theory. We use option pricing theory to develop a model of the D4 RIN in terms of its economic fundamentals: the spread between the prices of biodiesel and petroleum diesel and the status of the biodiesel blenders' tax credit. The resulting D4 fundamental price closely tracks actual D4 prices. We conclude that RIN price volatility arises because of the design of the RFS and intrinsic features of the US fuel supply system.
What is a Good School, and Can Parents Tell? Evidence on the Multidimensionality of School Output -- by Diether Beuermann, C. Kirabo Jackson, Laia Navarro-Sola, Francisco Pardo
Is a school's impact on high-stakes test scores a good measure of its overall impact on students? Do parents value school impacts on high-stakes tests, longer-run outcomes, or both? To answer the first question, we apply quasi-experimental methods to data from Trinidad and Tobago and estimate the causal impacts of individual schools on several outcomes. Schools' impacts on high-stakes tests are weakly related to impacts on low-stakes tests, dropout, crime, teen motherhood, and formal labor market participation. To answer the second question, we link estimated school impacts to parents' ranked lists of schools and employ discrete choice models to estimate parental preferences. Parents value schools that causally improve high-stakes test scores conditional on average outcomes, proximity, and peer quality. Consistent with parents valuing the multidimensional output of schools, parents of high-achieving girls prefer schools that increase formal labor market participation, and parents of high-achieving boys prefer schools that reduce crime.
Annuity Pricing in Public Pension Plans: Importance of Interest Rates -- by Nino Abashidze, Robert L. Clark, Beth Ritter, David Vanderweide
There is little systematic information on the distribution options in public sector retirement plans and how annuity options are priced relative to the standard single life annuity. This study examines the distribution options of 85 large public retirement plans covering general state employees, teachers, and local government employees. An important component of the analysis is the construction of a data set presenting the annuity options offered by each of these plans and how the monthly benefits for these distribution options are priced. The analysis shows that interest rates used to price annuities vary considerably across the plans. As a result, retirees with the same monthly benefit if a single life benefit is chosen will have substantially different monthly benefits if they select the joint and survivor annuity offered by their retirement plan.