In a Small Moment: Moral Hazard and Class Size in Italian Primary SchoolsISER External Seminars

Using a Maimonides-Rule identification strategy based on class-size cutoffs around 25, we document a payoff to smaller classes in Italian primary schools. These gains are driven mainly by schools in Southern Italy, suggesting a substantial return to class size for relatively poor residents of the Mezzogiorno. In addition to low SES, however, the Mezzogiorno is distinguished by pervasive teacher score manipulation on standardized tests, a fact established by an experiment randomly assigning school monitors. We use Italy’s Maimonides Rule to show that small classes facilitate teacher score manipulation, providing an alternative explanation for the causal effects of class size on test scores in Southern Italy. This motivates a causal model for achievement with two endogenous variables, class size and proportion manipulating. The model is identified by a combination of class size cutoffs and randomly assigned classroom monitors. The resulting estimates suggest that the effects of class size on measured achievement in Italian primary schools are driven entirely by the relationship between class size and teacher score manipulation. Models that estimate class size and score manipulation effects jointly generate precise zeros for the former.

Presented by:

Daniela Vuri (University of Rome, Tor Vergata)

Date & time:

24 Feb 2014 16:00 pm - 24 Feb 2014 17:30 pm


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