Leveled playing field

Kevin Lewis

December 08, 2016

Getting a Sporting Chance: Title IX and the Intergenerational Transmission of Health

Lisa Schulkind

Health Economics, forthcoming

We know that healthier mothers tend to have healthier infants, but we do not know how much of that relationship reflects the intergenerational transmission of genetic attributes versus environmental influences. From a policy perspective, it is crucial to understand which environmental influences are important and whether investments in one generation affect outcomes for the next. I use variation in the implementation of Title IX to measure the effects of increased athletic opportunities on the health of infants. Babies born to women with greater athletic opportunities as teenagers have babies that are healthier at birth. They are less likely to be born of low or very low birthweight and have higher Apgar scores.


Estimating the Effect of State Zero Tolerance Laws on Exclusionary Discipline, Racial Discipline Gaps, and Student Behavior

Chris Curran

Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2016, Pages 647-668

Zero tolerance discipline policies have come under criticism as contributors to racial discipline gaps; however, few studies have explicitly examined such policies. This study utilizes data from two nationally representative data sources to examine the effect of state zero tolerance laws on suspension rates and principal perceptions of problem behaviors. Utilizing state and year fixed effects models, this study finds that state zero tolerance laws are predictive of a 0.5 percentage point increase in district suspension rates and no consistent decreases in principals' perceptions of problem behaviors. Furthermore, the results indicate that the laws are predictive of larger increases in suspension rates for Blacks than Whites, potentially contributing to the Black-White suspension gap. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.


Is All Classroom Conduct Equal?: Teacher Contact With Parents of Racial/Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Adolescents

Hua-Yu Cherng

Teachers College Record, 2016

Population/Participants/Subjects: I utilize a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school sophomores, the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002).

Findings/Results: Even after considering measures of student behavior and other factors, I find that mathematics teachers are more likely to contact parents of third-generation Black and Latino youth about disruptive behavior than parents of third-generation White youth. Mathematics and English teachers are less likely to contact immigrant Asian parents about academic and behavioral concerns, even when students are struggling. Teachers are also less likely to contact minority parents with news of accomplishments.


Do Highly Paid, Highly Skilled Women Experience the Largest Motherhood Penalty?

Paula England et al.

American Sociological Review, December 2016, Pages 1161-1189

Motherhood reduces women's wages. But does the size of this penalty differ between more and less advantaged women? To answer this, we use unconditional quantile regression models with person-fixed effects, and panel data from the 1979 to 2010 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79). We find that among white women, the most privileged - women with high skills and high wages - experience the highest total penalties, estimated to include effects mediated through lost experience. Although highly skilled, highly paid women have fairly continuous experience, their high returns to experience make even the small amounts of time some of them take out of employment for childrearing costly. By contrast, penalties net of experience, which may represent employer discrimination or effects of motherhood on job performance, are not distinctive for highly skilled women with high wages.


Divergent Paths: Structural Change, Economic Rank, and the Evolution of Black-White Earnings Differences, 1940-2014

Patrick Bayer & Kerwin Kofi Charles

NBER Working Paper, November 2016

Studying working and non-working men, we find that, after closing substantially from 1940 to the mid-1970s, the median black-white earnings gap has since returned to its 1950 level, while the positional rank the median black man would hold in the white distribution has remained little changed since 1940. By contrast, higher quantile black men have experienced substantial gains in both relative earnings levels and their positional rank in the white earnings distribution. Using a new decomposition method that extends existing approaches to account for non-participation, we show that the gains of black men at higher quantiles have been driven primarily by positional gains within education level due to forces like improved access to quality schools and declining occupational exclusion. At the median and below, strong racial convergence in educational attainment has been counteracted by the rising returns to education in the labor market, which have disproportionately disadvantaged the shrinking but still substantial share of blacks with lower education.


The Effects of School Integration: Evidence from a Randomized Desegregation Program

Peter Bergman

Columbia University Working Paper, October 2016

This paper studies the impact of a desegregation ruling on several medium-run outcomes. This ruling mandates that seven school districts, which serve higher-income, predominantly-white families, accept a group of minority elementary school students who apply to transfer from a nearby, predominantly-minority school district. Slots are allocated via lottery. The offer to transfer raises college enrollment by 10 percentage points. This is due to greater attendance at two-year colleges and particularly for male students. There is evidence male students are also more likely to vote. In contrast, transferring increases the likelihood of arrest. This is driven by increases in non-violent offenses.


Sex differences in the right tail of cognitive abilities: An update and cross cultural extension

Matthew Makel et al.

Intelligence, November-December 2016, Pages 8-15

Male-female ability differences in the right tail (at or above the 95th percentile) have been widely discussed for their potential role in achievement and occupational differences in adults. The present study provides updated male-female ability ratios from 320,000 7th grade students in the United States in the right tail (top 5%) through the extreme right tail (top 0.01%) from 2011 to 2015 using measures of math, verbal, and science reasoning. Additionally, the present study establishes male-female ability ratios in a sample of over 7000 7th grade students in the right tail from 2011 to 2015 in India. Results indicate that ratios in the extreme right tail of math ability in the U.S. have shrunk in the last 20 years (still favoring males) and remained relatively stable in the verbal domain (still favoring females). Similar patterns of male-female ratios in the extreme right tail were found in the Indian sample.


Sexual Violence, Title IX and Women's College Enrollment

Dave Marcotte & Jane Palmer

American University Working Paper, November 2016

Sexual violence has long been a problem on college campuses, yet federal policies to protect students have largely been ineffectual. Spurred by student grievances, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights recently began investigating how sexual assault cases were handled at a number of institutions under the Title IX provisions of the Education Amendments of 1972.These investigations focus attention on specific colleges' responses to cases of sexual violence and raise the specter that these institutions may fail to properly investigate allegations or punish perpetrators. In this paper, we examine the implications of these investigations on college enrollment, particularly for women. We combine institution-level panel data on enrollment by age and gender, with information on Title IX investigations to study changes in women's college enrollment. We estimate that enrollment of women at colleges under Title IX investigation declined by 16 to 22 percent. The declines are consistent with both declining matriculation and retention of female students.


College Advising and Gender

Shane Thompson

Economic Inquiry, forthcoming

This paper uses a field experiment to identify college advising gender biases. Five hundred and thirty surveys are randomized over a national sample of practicing advisors such that student gender is the "treatment" of the experiment. I find that advisors discount the ability of female students relative to males by statistically significant magnitudes in both mathematics and English. Additionally, male advisors recommend mathematics with much greater likelihood than do female advisors.


Brain Drain? An Examination of Stereotype Threat Effects During Training on Knowledge Acquisition and Organizational Effectiveness

James Grand

Journal of Applied Psychology, forthcoming

Stereotype threat describes a situation in which individuals are faced with the risk of upholding a negative stereotype about their subgroup based on their actions. Empirical work in this area has primarily examined the impact of negative stereotypes on performance for threatened individuals. However, this body of research seldom acknowledges that performance is a function of learning - which may also be impaired by pervasive group stereotypes. This study presents evidence from a 3-day self-guided training program demonstrating that stereotype threat impairs acquisition of cognitive learning outcomes for females facing a negative group stereotype. Using hierarchical Bayesian modeling, results revealed that stereotyped females demonstrated poorer declarative knowledge acquisition, spent less time reflecting on learning activities, and developed less efficiently organized knowledge structures compared with females in a control condition. Findings from a Bayesian mediation model also suggested that despite stereotyped individuals "working harder" to perform well, their underachievement was largely attributable to failures in learning to "work smarter." Building upon these empirical results, a computational model and computer simulation is also presented to demonstrate the practical significance of stereotype-induced impairments to learning on the development of an organization's human capital resources and capabilities. The simulation results show that even the presence of small effects of stereotype threat during learning/training have the potential to exert a significant negative impact on an organization's performance potential. Implications for future research and practice examining stereotype threat during learning are discussed.


The Influence of Height on Academic Outcomes

Devon Gorry

Economics of Education Review, February 2017, Pages 1-8

This paper examines whether the height premium for academic outcomes is driven by unequal opportunities for tall individuals. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health, this paper shows that taller individuals typically earn higher grades and attain more schooling, but the associations are not uniform across school size. Height is only associated with better outcomes for students attending large schools and these improvements are concentrated among males. Data suggest that height contributes more to sports participation and school satisfaction in large schools where resources are more scarce. Thus, differential opportunities or treatment across height in large schools may drive the performance differences.


Decomposing the Racial Gap in STEM Major Attrition: A Course-Level Investigation

Matthew Baird, Moshe Buchinsky & Veronica Sovero

RAND Working Paper, October 2016

This paper examines differences in STEM retention between minority and non-minority undergraduate students. To do so, we use detailed student records of a student's courses, grades, and current major for every term the student was enrolled in a large public university. To examine the role of ability in the switching decision and timing, we estimate STEM and non-STEM ability, and then compare the joint distribution of students who switch out of STEM versus STEM stayers. Students with relatively greater non-STEM ability are more likely to switch out of STEM, but ability cannot completely account for the differences in switching patterns for Hispanic and Black students. In fact, Black and Hispanic students are more likely to persist in STEM after ability is taken into account. We also find evidence of switching behavior that appears motivated by a preference for graduation within four years.


Does a Self-Affirmation Intervention Reduce Stereotype Threat in Black and Hispanic High Schools?

Jenifer Bratter, Kristie Rowley & Irina Chukhray

Race and Social Problems, December 2016, Pages 340-356

The risk of confirming negative stereotypes about one's social group, known as stereotype threat, depresses academic achievement among students of color and contributes to racial gaps in achievement. Some work finds that stereotype threat may be alleviated through self-affirmation exercises, translating into improved performance among students vulnerable to threat. However, this work has been conducted primarily in settings where students of color represent a relatively small segment of the student population. The current study explores whether this intervention is efficacious in schools where students of color are the majority. Through a randomized controlled trial of 886 students in three high schools (one predominantly black, one predominantly Hispanic, and one mixed race school), we administered self-affirmation exercises over the course of an academic year. We find no clear evidence that self-affirmation promoted higher standardized test scores or higher grades within the sample. The null findings highlight the complex nature of academic challenges in segregated contexts and raise important questions about the nature of stereotype thereat in such contexts. Importantly, this suggests that solely enhancing self-integrity may not be sufficient to close academic race-based gaps.


Increasing Gender Diversity in Corporate Boards: Are Firms Catering to Investor Preferences?

Chinmoy Ghosh et al.

University of Connecticut Working Paper, October 2016

We examine the drivers of increasing women's representation on boards in American firms. During 1998-2014, the proportion of firms with female directors on their boards almost doubled to approximately 78%, while the percentage of female directors increased almost five-fold to a share of 15%. Our analysis shows that the documented increase in female representation on corporate boards is driven by the increasing propensity of firms to add more female directors, rather than changing firms' characteristics. We use the catering theory to explain firms' propensity to increase (or decrease) their board gender diversity, and show that when the premium to have women on board is positive (negative), firms are more likely to add (replace) female directors. We further find that firms with more women on their boards are historically associated with higher valuation premium. Finally, we observe that the magnitude of board gender diversity changes is positively related to the change in the lagged gender diversity premium. Our results indicate that board gender diversity can increase value in firms, catering to the demand of investors for gender-diversified boards.


The Gender Gap in Charter School Enrollment

Sean Corcoran & Jennifer Jennings

Educational Policy, forthcoming

Many studies have investigated whether students in charter schools differ systematically from those in traditional public schools with respect to prior achievement, special education, or English Language Learner status. None, however, has examined gender differences in charter school enrollment. Using data for all U.S. public schools over 11 years, we find charters enroll a higher fraction of girls, a gap that has grown steadily over time and is larger in secondary grades and KIPP schools. We then analyze longitudinal student-level data from North Carolina to examine whether differential rates of attrition explain this gap. We find boys are more likely than girls to exit charters once enrolled, and gender differences in attrition are larger than in traditional schools. However, the difference is not large enough to explain the full enrollment gap between charter and traditional schools in North Carolina, suggesting gaps exist from initial matriculation.


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