David N. Figlio

David N. Figlio
Northwestern University | NU

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93
Publications
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Publications

Publications (93)
Article
We use linked birth and education records from Florida to investigate how the identification of childhood disabilities varies by race and school racial composition. Using a series of decompositions, we find that black and Hispanic students are identified with disabilities at lower rates than are observationally similar white students. Black and His...
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It is notoriously difficult to identify peer effects within the family. Using administrative data on children from both Florida and Denmark, the paper examines the effects of having a disabled younger sibling. To address the identification challenge, the paper compares the differential effects for first-and second-born children in three-plus-child...
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We present evidence of a positive relationship between school starting age and children’s cognitive development from ages 6 to 18 using a fuzzy regression discontinuity design and large-scale population-level birth and school data from the state of Florida. We estimate effects of being old for grade (being born in September vs. August) that are rem...
Article
The Developmental Consequences of Superfund Sites Claudia Persico, American University David Figlio, Northwestern University and National Bureau of Economic Research Jeffrey Roth, University of Florida Journal of Labor Economics, In press, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/706807 Abstract We use population-level data of all Florida children born betwe...
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Boys born to disadvantaged families have higher rates of disciplinary problems, lower achievement scores, and fewer high school completions than girls from comparable backgrounds. Using birth certificates matched to schooling records for Florida children born 1992–2002, we find that family disadvantage disproportionately impedes the pre-market deve...
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Little is known about the role birth order plays in delinquency and adult crime outcomes that carry significant externalities. We use rich data sets from Denmark and Florida to examine these outcomes and explore potential mechanisms. Despite large environmental differences between the areas, we find remarkably consistent results: in families with t...
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We present evidence of a positive relationship between school starting age and children’s cognitive development from age 6 to 15 using a regression discontinuity design and large-scale population-level birth and school data from the state of Florida. We estimate effects of being relatively old for grade (being born in September versus August) that...
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Accurate understanding of environmental moderation of genetic influences is vital to advancing the science of cognitive development as well as for designing interventions. One widely reported idea is increasing genetic influence on cognition for children raised in higher socioeconomic status (SES) families, including recent proposals that the patte...
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Importance Survivors of preterm birth often present with medical morbidities; however, variation in their long-term educational performance has not been well described. Objective To estimate the association between gestational age and 4 outcomes in school-aged children: readiness to enter kindergarten, scores on standardized tests in elementary an...
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Thanks to extraordinary and exponential improvements in data storage and computing capacities, it is now possible to collect, manage, and analyze data in magnitudes and in manners that would have been inconceivable just a short time ago. As the world has developed this remarkable capacity to store and analyze data, so have the world’s governments d...
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Importance Late-term gestation (defined as the 41st week of pregnancy) is associated with increased risk of perinatal health complications. It is not known to what extent late-term gestation is associated with long-term cognitive and physical outcomes. Information about long-term outcomes may influence physician and patient decisions regarding opti...
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Recent evidence indicates that boys and girls are differently affected by the quantity and quality of family inputs received in childhood. We assess whether this is also true for schooling inputs. Using matched Florida birth and school administrative records, we estimate the causal effect of school quality on the gender gap in educational outcomes...
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This study makes use of detailed student-level data from eight cohorts of first-year students at Northwestern University to investigate the relative effects of tenure track/tenured versus contingent faculty on student learning. We focus on classes taken during a student's first term at Northwestern and employ an identification strategy in which we...
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The causes of participation in social programs have been studied extensively, with prominent roles found for program rules and benefits. A lack of information about these programs has been suggested as a cause of low participation rates among certain groups, but it is often difficult to distinguish between the role of information sharing and other...
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This paper examines the effect of the introduction of school accountability policies in Florida on schools' student body composition. We specifically examine the effects of the state issuing official school ''grades" on the composition of incoming kindergarten classes, using novel data on families' socioeconomic characteristics drawn from birth rec...
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We make use of a new data resource, merged birth and school records for all children born in Florida from 1992 to 2002, to study the effects of birth weight on cognitive development from kindergarten through schooling. Using twin fixed effects models, we find that the effects of birth weight on cognitive development are essentially constant through...
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Using student-level microdata from 2000-2001 to 2004-2005 from Florida and North Carolina, we compare the effectiveness of teachers in schools serving primarily students from low-income families (>70% free-and-reduced-price-lunch students) with teachers in schools serving more advantaged students. The results show that the average effectiveness of...
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Revised: February 2008 This research was funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. We thank them for their support but acknowledge that the findings and conclusions presented in this report are those of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the research...
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The relationships between social networks and economic behavior have been well-documented. However, it is often difficult to distinguish between the role of information sharing and other features of a neighborhood, such as factors that are common to people of the same ethnicities or socio-economic opportunities, or uniquely local methods of program...
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School accountability-the process of evaluating school performance on the basis of student performance measures-is increasingly prevalent around the world. In the United States, accountability has become a centerpiece of both Democratic and Republican federal administrations' education policies. This chapter reviews the theory of school-based accou...
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The existing literature on the relationship between the share of elderly in a community and the support for local public education has led to mixed results to date. One potential reason behind this is that the share of elderly in a community is endogenous, and it is very difficult to disentangle the effects of individuals aging in place from that o...
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This paper provides detailed evidence regarding the nature of selection into a school voucher system. We use micro-data on scholarship applications matched with state student-level records on test scores, schools attended, and demographic background characteristics to describe the attributes of students who choose to participate in Florida's Corpor...
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We are grateful for comments by James Wyckoff and participants at the Institute for Education Sciences conference and the annual research workshop of the National Center for the Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, for research funding from the Institute for Education Sciences, as well as for data provided by the Florida Department...
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We study the effects of private school competition on public school students’ test scores in the wake of Florida’s Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship program, now known as the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which offered scholarships to eligible low-income students to attend private schools. Specifically, we examine whether students in schoo...
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This paper presents the first causal evidence on the effects of school accountability systems on teacher labor markets. We exploit a 2002 change in Florida's school accountability system that exogenously shocked some schools to higher accountability grades and others to lower accountability grades, and measure whether teachers in shocked schools ar...
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This paper presents the first experimental evidence on the effects of live versus internet media of instruction. Students in a large introductory microeconomics course at a major research university were randomly assigned to live lectures versus watching these same lectures in an internet setting, where all other factors (e.g., instruction, supplem...
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Over the past several decades there has been dramatically increased attention paid to measuring the performance of public sector and nonprofit organizations in the United States and elsewhere. Recent research has indicated that public sector and nonprofit organizations are responsive to performance measurement in both productive and unproductive wa...
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We study the effects of prenatal receipt of nutritional and educational services provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) on birth outcomes. Our identification strategy consists of two elements: (1) identifying families in a very tight income range surrounding the WIC eligibility threshold; and (2) explo...
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While numerous recent authors have studied the effects of school accountability systems on student test performance and school “gaming” of accountability incentives, there has been little attention paid to substantive changes in instructional policies and practices resulting from school accountability. The lack of research is primarily due to the u...
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This paper is the first to systematically document the relationship between individual teacher performance incentives and student achievement using the United States data. We combine data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey on schools, students, and their families with our own survey conducted in 2000 regarding the use of teacher incent...
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This paper is the first to explore the effects of school accountability systems on high-achieving students' long-term performance. Using exceptional data from a large highly-selective state university, we relate school accountability pressure in high school to a student's university-level grades and study habits. We exploit a change in the state's...
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In this paper we study the effects of the threat of school vouchers and school stigma in Florida on the performance of "low-performing" schools using student-level data from a subset of districts. Estimates of the change in school-level high-stakes test scores from the first year of the reform are consistent with the early results used by the state...
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This paper proposes an unusual identification strategy to estimate the effects of disruptive students on peer behavior and academic outcomes. I suggest that boys with names most commonly given to girls may be more prone to misbehavior as they get older. This paper utilizes data on names, classroom assignment, behavior problems and student test scor...
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This paper investigates the question of whether teachers treat children differentially on the basis of factors other than observed ability, and whether this differential treatment in turn translates into differences in student outcomes. I suggest that teachers may use a child's name as a signal of unobserved parental contributions to that child's e...
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The recent passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 solidified a national trend toward increased student testing for the purpose of evaluating public schools. This new environment for schools provides strong incentives for schools to alter the ways in which they deliver educational services. This paper investigates whether schools may employ...
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School accountability systems based on high-stakes testing of students have become ubiquitous in the United States, and are now federal policy as well. This paper identifies a previously-unresearched method through which schools faced with potential sanctions may 'game the system' in order to have higher aggregate student test scores than might oth...
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To estimate the excess educational costs at kindergarten from infant and maternal factors that are reported routinely at birth. Birth and school records were analyzed for all children who were born in Florida between September 1, 1990, and August 31, 1991, and entered kindergarten from 1996 through 1999 (N = 120,554). Outcome measure was cost to st...
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This study analyzes the effects of right-wing extremism on the well-being of immigrants based on data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) for the years 1984 to 2006 merged with state-level information on election outcomes. The results show that the life satisfaction of immigrants is significantly reduced if right-wing extremism in the nativ...
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This paper investigates whether the housing market responds to the information incorporated in state-administered school grades. We study whether school grades affect families' residential locations and house prices. Using detailed data on repeated sales of individual residential properties in the state of Florida, we find evidence that there is an...
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This paper employs data from 45 states between 1972 and 1992 to investigate the basic forces affecting school resource inequality within a state. We consider a wide range of determinants of inequality, including voter preferences, the tax and political structure within the state, and the legal standing of education within the state constitution. We...
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With reports that some of the nation's finest universities have been handing out A's like lollipops at Halloween, the lowering of standards in higher education has become a hot topic. But grading standards in primary and secondary education have received remarkably less attention. There are two major questions related to grading standards. First, t...
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We use a dynamic model of food stamp caseloads with state-level panel data to estimate the impact of the business cycle on food stamp caseloads in the era of welfare reform. The macroeconomy has a substantial impact on food stamp caseloads: A one-percentage-point increase in the unemployment rate leads to a 2.3% increase after one year. In terms of...
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This paper describes many of the fiscal implications to states and school districts of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. While considerable am-biguities exist in the current law and states will implement the law differ-ently, predictable consequences exist for the school finance system. Moreover, the nature of these consequenc...
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The past several years have been marked by a general trend towards increased high-stakes testing for students and schools and test-based school accountability systems. There are many potential school responses to testing programs. This paper investigates the potential that schools respond by gaming the system through reshaping the test pool. Using...
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Tracking programs have been criticized on the grounds that they harm disadvantaged children. The bulk of empirical research supports this view, but existing studies compare outcomes across students placed in different tracks. Track placement is likely to be endogenous with respect to student outcomes. We use a new strategy for overcoming the endoge...
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Since the early 1980s, real teacher salaries in U.S. public schools have increased considerably faster than salaries of other Americans with similar levels of education and training. Providing an important impetus for this development were claims that increased salaries would allow the recruitment of better-qualified teachers. This analysis, which...
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This paper examines the impact of local tax limits on new teacher quality. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics we find that tax limits systematically reduce the average quality of education majors, as well as new public school teachers in states that have passed these limits. The average relative test scores of education ma...
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We investigate how key school and community characteristics interact with the characteristics of individual students and families in determining the enrollment patterns in public and private schools. Using unique, nationally-representative, individual-level data, we find evidence that a number of factors plausibly influenced by public policy (e.g.,...
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This paper provides evidence that some cities subject to a statewide tax limit manipulate their mix of productive and administrative services in an attempt to get voters to override the statewide limit. When a statewide limit reduces a city's budget, one manipulative response is to cut "service" inputs (for example, teachers or uniformed police off...
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Full-text available
Tracking programs have been criticized on the grounds that they harm disadvantaged children. The bulk of empirical research supports this view. These studies are conducted by comparing outcomes for across students placed in different tracks. Track placement, however, is likely to be endogenous with respect to outcomes. We use a new strategy for ove...
Article
This paper examines the effects of private schooling on adolescent non-market behaviors. We control for differences between private and public school students by making use of the rich set of covariates available with our NELS micro-dataset. We also employ an instrumental-variables strategy that exploits variation across metropolitan areas in the c...
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Throughout the last decade, many states around the country have begun making public student test scores or other evaluative measures of school quality available to the general public. The most recent trends in state policies under consideration, already enacted in Florida and a n major component of George W. Bush's education platform, involve the a...
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When there are peer effects in education, private schools have an incentive to vary tuition to attract relatively able students. Epple and Romano [American Economic Review 88(1) (1998) 33] develop a general equilibrium model characterizing equilibrium pricing and student selection into schools when peer effects are present. The model predicts that...
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Little evidence exists on the effects of foreign direct investment (FDI) on local communities in the United States, despite evidence that U.S. communities actively bid against each other for FDI. We use detailed county-level panel data from South Carolina across 5-year intervals from 1980 through 1995 to investigate the effect of foreign manufactur...
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The substantial economic expansion of the 1990s, coupled with the dramatic changes in the delivery of cash assistance in America, may have had differential impacts on welfare caseloads across geographic areas because of spatial differences in the composition of labor-market skills and welfare caseloads. We examine urban and rural differences in the...
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We use state-level monthly panel data to assess the relative contributions of the macroeconomy and welfare reform in accounting for the 1993-96 decline in Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) caseloads. Our results suggest that the decline in per capita AFDC caseloads is attributable largely to the economic conditions in states and not to...
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Since 1994 there has been an unprecedented decline in the number of people receving food stamp benefits. From a record high of 27.5 million in 1994, the number of food stamp recipients fell over 30% to 18.0 million by mid 1999. Innovative changes in the delivery of food stamp benefits have been taking place with the introduction of Electronic Benef...
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Several recent papers in the public choice literature suggest that legislators shirk, or vote in a manner contrary to constituent interest. This paper explores the relationship between senatorial shirking and electoral consequences. I model political shirking, opponent quality and election outcomes as simultaneous, and find significant evidence of...
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Are private schools really better than public schools, or is it simply that better students attend private schools? Although a number of recent studies find that students perform better in private schools (more specifically, Catholic schools), others do not. Typically, however, the instruments used to adjust for nonrandom selection are weak. This s...
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We investigate the nature and sources of the decline in the level of employment of working age males in Australia in recent decades, drawing on both Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force survey data and census data. Alternative measures of the male employment rate are considered before settling on two complementary measures: the full-time em...
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This paper uses a panel of state-level annual data from 1983 to 1994 for each of the contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, to explore the degree to which states simultaneously set welfare benefits. Using instrumental variables estimation, we find substantial empirical evidence that is supportive of the notion of welfare competition...
Article
Little evidence exists on the effects of foreign direct investment (FDI) on local communities in the United States, despite evidence that U.S. communities actively bid against each other for FDI. We use detailed county-level panel data from South Carolina across 5-year intervals from 1980 through 1995 to investigate the effect of foreign manufactur...
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A widely-cited result in the education production function literature is that the level of measured school inputs (e.g., student–teacher ratio or starting teacher salary) is not associated with differences in student achievement, all else equal. I argue that this result may be attributable in part to the restrictive functional form assumptions used...
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We summarize research addressing the validity of the argument that constitutional constraints such as Proposition 13 could reduce the size of local governments while having little effect on the quality of public services provided. A growing body of research is producing a consistent conclusion; imposition of tax and expenditure limits results in lo...
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This paper explores the relationship between neighborhood racial composition and the level of banking services. We use unique census tract-level data on banking services and neighborhood characteristics in Alameda County, California, from points in time before and after the recent wave of bank consolidations to eliminate as well as possible the pot...
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This paper was presented at the conference "Unequal incomes, unequal outcomes? Economic inequality and measures of well-being" as part of session 3, "Education and crime in urban neighborhoods." The conference was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on May 7, 1999. The authors examine the empirical evidence on the relationship between scho...
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Since the early 1990s, a number of states have imposed limitations on local public school revenues and expenditures. I consider the effects of this trend, which has been likened to the "local property tax revolt" of the 1970s, on the provision of local public education. I use a comprehensive panel of school districts from Oregon and Washington, wit...
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During the late 1970s and early 1980s, a majority of states substantially changed the ways in which schools were funded, either directly through court- or legislatively mandated school finance reform, or indirectly through tax and expenditure limits. To date, there have been few academic attempts to gauge the effects of these policy changes on actu...
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Abstract - Since the early 1990s, a number,of states have,imposed,limita- tions on local public school,revenues,and expenditures.,I consider the effects of this trend, which has been likened to the “local property tax revolt” of the 1970s, on the provision,of local public educa- tion. I use a comprehensive,panel,of school,districts from,Oregon,and...
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This paper uses detailed school-level data from 49 states to analyze the effects of tax-revolt era property tax limitations on school services. I find that limitations are associated with larger student-teacher ratios and lower cost-of-living adjusted starting teacher salaries, all else equal. These results are robust to modelling the results as en...
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The international financial crisis manifests itself in Ireland not only as a crisis of the banking system, but also as a major fiscal crisis, aggravated by years of soft revenue policy and a housing bubble that has burst spectacularly. The severe drop in economic output results in a crisis of employment and a definitive end to the ‘Celtic Tiger’ er...
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Nationwide, AFDC caseloads have decreased by about 18 percent since March 1994, while some states, such as Wisconsin, Indiana, and Oregon, have seen declines of 40 percent or more. Two factors are frequently suggested as possible causes: state-level experiments with welfare reform and strong economic growth. In this paper, we use state-level monthl...
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The imposition of a national 21-year minimum drinking age has sparked considerable controversy in recent years. Critics have contended that the perceived “successes” of the increased drinking age are actually due to underlying trends toward fewer alcohol-related crashes among teenagers, and would have occurred in the absence of an increased drinkin...
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The theory of rational utility-maximizing agents suggests that politicians should alter their voting patterns when the reelection constraint is removed. However, the previous empirical work on this issue has not shown such a relationship. This article tests the hypothesis that the decision to retire results in systematic changes in political voting...
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This paper documents recent trends in the publication of empirical articles in general-interest economics journals. Three measures of journal quality are estimated. The author finds substantial differences in publication rates of empirical articles among top tier and second-tier journals, and shows that the empirical percentages among general-inter...
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Recent work shows that peers affect student achievement, but the mechanisms are not well understood. I show that peer behavior is an important mechanism, perhaps more so than ability, by exploiting exogenous timing in diagnosis/treatment of ADD among peers that improves peer behavior while holding peer achievement constant. Improvements in peer beh...
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We use state-level panel data for federal fiscal years 1980–1998 to estimate the impacts of welfare reform and the business cycle on food stamp caseloads. The model we employ is a dynamic function of past caseloads, economic factors, AFDC and Food Stamp Program policies, political factors, AFDC caseload levels, and unobserved fixed and trending het...