Rethinking Education Choices: The Effect of Surveys
94 Pages Posted: 1 May 2017 Last revised: 21 Nov 2019
Date Written: October 6, 2017
Can surveys affect human capital investments? This paper examines whether individual education choices and outcomes are affected by a survey posing questions related to investments, performance, preferences, and expectations. We have administrative data for the whole Swedish population to which an extensive education survey was administered to randomly drawn samples of primary school students and their parents. This constitutes a large-scale randomized social experiment for testing whether responding to survey questions alters behavior. We observe complete education and labor market histories until the individuals are 31-36 years old. The causal effect of the survey on both short- and long-term outcomes is generally not significantly different from zero. We find, however, that being surveyed affects educational attainment, earnings, and employment in the early career for some subgroups. We assess heterogeneity in estimated causal effects and sibling spillovers in order to get at potential mechanisms. The patterns are consistent with the importance of increased awareness (or salience) and short-lived information "nudges".
Keywords: Survey, Awareness, Information, Education Choices
JEL Classification: C42, C83, I21, I24, J24
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation