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Inequality in education: can Italian disadvantaged students close the gap? A focus on resilience in the Italian school system

The relationship between socio-economic status and student achievement is well documented and a widespread literature indicates that students from more advantaged backgrounds perform better at school. Despite this relationship, several international assessments have highlighted that in each country there is a relevant proportion of “resilient students”, i.e. students who come from a disadvantaged socio-economic background but achieve relatively high levels of educational performance. In this paper, the determinants of resilience in the Italian educational system are investigated analysing data from the OECD-PISA 2009 edition, with a specific focus on the role of school-level variables that could help more students succeed. The aim is to target a specific category of resilient students, namely those who are characterised by a low socioeconomic background both at family level and at school level; therefore a novel statistical procedure is proposed to derive a sample of disadvantaged students who attend disadvantaged schools. Afterwards a multilevel logistic approach is adopted to determine which characteristics of students, families and schools, tend to give disadvantaged students a higher probability of becoming a resilient. Our results confirm that not only individual-level characteristics, but also some school factors (i.e. extracurricular activities and school leadership) play a role in this direction, suggesting policy and managerial implications.

What are the causes of educational inequalities and of their evolution over time in Europe? Evidence from Pisa

This paper provides evidence on the sources of differences in inequalities in educational scores in European Union member states, by decomposing them into their determinin factors. Using PISA data from the 2000 and 2006 waves, the paper shows that inequalities emerge in all countries and in both period, but decreased in Germany, whilst they increased in France and Italy. Decomposition shows that educational inequalities do not only reflect background related inequality, but especially schools’ characteristics. The findings allow policy makers to target areas that may make a contribution in reducing educational inequalities., Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition

Ethnic Diversity and Preferences for Redistribution

In recent decades, the immigration of workers and refugees to Europe has increased substantially, and the composition of the population in many countries has consequently become much more heterogeneous in terms of ethnic background. If people exhibit in-group bias in the sense of being more altruistic to one's own kind, such increased heterogeneity will lead to reduced support for redistribution among natives. This paper exploits a nationwide program placing refugees in municipalities throughout Sweden during the period 1985{94 to isolate exogenous variation in immigrant shares. We match data on refugee placement to panel survey data on inhabitants of the receiving municipalities to estimate the causal effects of increased immigrant shares on preferences for redistribution. The results show that a larger immigrant population leads to less suport for redistribution in the form of preferred social benet levels. This reduction in support is especially pronounced for respondents with high income and wealth. We also establish that OLS estimators that do not properly deal with endogeneity problems|as in earlier studies|are likely to yield positively biased (i.e., less negative) effects of ethnic heterogeneity on preferences for redistribution.

Why do educated mothers matter? A model of parental help

This paper investigates the role performed by mothers in affecting their childrens’ performance at school. The article develops firstly a theoretical model in which household (parent - child pair) is treated as an individual, whose utility depends both on the performance at school of the student and on consumption. The model focuses on the diferent possibilities through which help of mothers may affect pupil’s performance both in terms of time devoted to supervision and spillover effects. Empirical evidence then, using PISA 2006 and focusing on Italian case, shows that education of mothers is an issue when interacted with her occupational status. Highly educated mothers have a positive impact on students’ score only when they are highly qualifed in the job market.

On the determinants of local tax rates: new evidence from Spain

This paper studies the determinants of local tax rates. For the two main local taxes in Spain - the property tax and the motor vehicle tax - we test the existence of tax mimicking, yardstick competition and political trends in a sample of 2,713 municipalities. Using different spatial models, the results support the hypothesis of tax mimicking, with coefficients over 0.40. We also show the relevance of political variables such as the ideology of the incumbents and political fragmentation. The fact that incumbents with weaker political support display stronger mimicking behaviour is interpreted as evidence in favour of yardstick competition. Finally, we find incumbents mimic neighbouring municipalities ruled by the same political party, confirming the political trends hypothesis.

A model of music piracy with popularity-dependent copying costs

Anecdotal evidence and recent empirical work suggest that music piracy has differential effects on artists depending on their popularity. Existing theoretical literatura cannot explain such differential effects since it is exclusively concerned with single-firm models. We present a model with two types of artists who differ in their popularity. We assume that the costs of illegal downloads increase with the scarcity of a recording, and that scarcity is negatively related to the artist’s popularity. Moreover, we allow for a second source of revenues for artists apart from CD sales. These alternative revenues depend on an artist's recognition as measured by the number of consumers who obtain his recordin either by purchasing the original or downloading a copy. Our findings for the more popular artist generalize a result found by Gayer and Shy (2006) who show that piracy is beneficial to the artist when alternative revenues are important. In our model, however, this does not carry over to the less popular artist, who is often harmed by piracy even when alternative revenues are important. We conclude that piracy tends to reduce musical variety.

Universities and regional economic growth in Spanish regions

This paper examines the main contributions of universities to the econòmic growth of Spanish regions. It calculates the separate effects of the different university functions on the regional economy, namely the creation of human capital, research and technology transfer. It includes a panel data set with the key variables of university activities and their effects on the economy at provincial level. The econometric estimations are based on information for all 47 public universities and include 34 Spanish provinces. The empirical results suggest that the growth of regional GVA is positively correlated to both the human capital created by universities and the stock of university patents.

Do universities affect firms’ location decisions? Evidence from Spain

Human capital, scientific research, and technology are the three chief mechanisms promoting knowledge spillovers from universities to firms. Based on a study of the impact of Spain’s 1983 University Reform Act (LRU), which opened the door to the foundation of new universities and faculties, this paper examines whether university (or faculty) location affects the creation of new firms within a given province. We conclude that the foundation of science and social science faculties has had a marked impact on the creation of firms.

Is there an election cycle in public employment? Separating time effects from election year effects

Do governments increase public employment in election years? This paper answers this question by using data from Sweden and Finland, two countries that are similar in many respects but in which local elections are held at different points in time. These facts make it possible for us to separate an election effect from other time effects. Our results indicate that there is a statistically significant election year effect in local public employment, a production factor that is highly visible in the welfare services provided by the local governments in the Scandinavian countries. The effect also seems to be economically significant; the municipalities employ 0.6 more full-time employees per 1,000 capita in election years than in other years (which correspond to an increase by approximately 1 percent).

Corruption scandals, press reporting, and accountability. Evidence from Spanish mayors [WP-IEB]

We analyse the effects of local corruption on electoral outcomes with Spanish data. Based upon press reports published between 1996 and 2009, we are able to construct a novel database on corruption scandals and news related to bribe-taking in exchange for amendments to land use plans. Our data show that local corruption scandals first emerged during the 1999-2003 term, but that they peaked just before the 2007 elections. We estimate anequation for the incumbent’s vote share at this electoral contest and find the average vote los after a corruption scandal to be around 4%, and the effect to be greater for cases receiving wide newspaper coverage (up to 9%). The effects found for the 2003 elections are much lower. When we consider cases in which the incumbent has been charged with corruption and press coverage has been extensive the vote loss can rise to 12%. However, press reports have a negative impact on the vote even when no judicial charges have been brought.

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