The Treatment Effect of Attending a High-Quality School and the Influence of Unobservables
Social Science Research Network
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... bedingungen die in der dort genannten Lizenz gewährten Nutzungsrechte. This series presents research findings based either directly on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study (SOEP) or using SOEP data as part of an internationally comparable data set (e.g. CNEF, ECHP, LIS, LWS, CHER/PACO). SOEP is a truly multidisciplinary household panel study covering a wide range of social and behavioral sciences: economics, sociology, psychology, survey methodology, econometrics and applied statistics, educational science, political science, public health, behavioral genetics, demography, geography, and sport science. The decision to publish a submission in SOEPpapers is made by a board of editors chosen by the DIW Berlin to represent the wide range of disciplines covered by SOEP. There is no external referee process and papers are either accepted or rejected without revision. Papers appear in this series as works in progress and may also appear elsewhere. They often represent preliminary studies and are circulated to encourage discussion. Citation of such a paper should account for its provisional character. A revised version may be requested from the author directly. Any opinions expressed in this series are those of the author(s) and not those of DIW Berlin. Research disseminated by DIW Berlin may include views on public policy issues, but the institute itself takes no institutional policy positions. The SOEPpapers are available at Abstract: This paper studies the effect of attending a high-quality secondary school on subsequent educational outcomes. The analysis is based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study in which we observe children when they make their secondary school choice (between ages 10-12) and later when they self-report on their intentions with regard to their further educational path (between ages 16-17). To identify the treatment effect, we use a regression-control framework as well as an instrumental variable approach (based on local supply of schools). In a second step, we carefully examine the influence of unobservable characteristics, using the new technique proposed by Altonji, Elder, and Taber (2005b). Our findings suggest that unobservable characteristics are indeed crucial to the validity of the research design. While we find large positive and significant effects of attending a high-quality school, we cannot rule out that the estimates are not in fact driven by selection on unobservables. Acknowledgments: We would like to thank participants of the DIW Cluster Seminar and the FU Berlin WIPO-Seminar. Comments of colleagues at DIW Berlin and the Stockholm School of Economics are also gratefully acknowledged. The usual disclaimer applies.