In a Small Moment: Class Size and Moral Hazard in the Mezzogiorno

56 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2014

See all articles by Joshua D. Angrist

Joshua D. Angrist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Erich Battistin

Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)

Daniela Vuri

University of Rome Tor Vergata; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2014

Abstract

An instrumental variables (IV) identification strategy that exploits statutory class size caps shows significant achievement gains in smaller classes in Italian primary schools. Gains from small classes are driven mainly by schools in Southern Italy, suggesting a substantial return to class size reductions for residents of the Mezzogiorno. In addition to high unemployment and other social problems, however, the Mezzogiorno is distinguished by pervasive manipulation of standardized test scores, a finding revealed in a natural experiment that randomly assigned school monitors. IV estimates also show that small classes increase score manipulation. Estimates of a causal model for achievement with two endogenous variables, class size and score manipulation, suggest that the effects of class size on measured achievement are driven entirely by the relationship between class size and manipulation. Dishonest scoring appears to be a consequence of teacher shirking more than teacher cheating. These findings show how consequential score manipulation can arise even in assessment systems with few NCLB-style accountability concerns.

Suggested Citation

Angrist, Joshua and Battistin, Erich and Vuri, Daniela, In a Small Moment: Class Size and Moral Hazard in the Mezzogiorno (May 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20173. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2444540

Joshua Angrist (Contact Author)

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Erich Battistin

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Daniela Vuri

University of Rome Tor Vergata ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Germany

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