Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Economics

First Advisor

Kenneth I. Wolpin

Abstract

In this dissertation I address different topics in education policy, taking advantage of utilizing both micro-data and economic theory. The dissertation consists of two chapters, both using Chilean data. In chapter 1, The Impact of College Admissions Policies on The Performance of High School Students, I empirically evaluate the effects of college admissions policies on high school students' performance. In particular, I empirically demonstrate how increasing equality of opportunity may lead to a boost in average academic effort and shed light on the efficiency of alternative affirmative action policies. The results of this chapter suggest that affirmative action should not be seen only as a way to democratize the access to tertiary education, but also as a way to increase the motivation and performance of high school students. Methodologically speaking, this research contributes to the economic literature by estimating a rank-order tournament with heterogeneous-ability contestants.

In Chapter 2, A Dynamic Model of Elementary School Choice, I study how parents choose a primary school for their child. The approach of this chapter has three main contributions to the previous literature. The empirical strategy allows me to distinguish between first among different sources of observed preferences for private vis-`a-vis public schools, and second among different causes of unequal access to high-quality schools. In the paper I model and empirically estimate how parents may have misperceptions about school quality, because test scores depend on school quality and on the socioeconomic status (SES) of the school's population, parents can confound these two effects, confusing high quality schools with schools that have higher SES students. The paper contributes to the sparse literature on structural estimation with bounded rationality.

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