Follow the Leader: Student Strikes, School Absenteeism and Persistent Consequences on Educational Outcomes
56 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2017 Last revised: 9 May 2018
Date Written: April 2018
The 2011 Chilean student strikes, led by university students but promptly joined by hundreds of thousands of secondary school students, triggered a significant drop in public secondary school attendance (a decline of about 15 percentage points in all four grades). Attendance returned to normal levels in 2012. Using the type of school that students attended in 2011 as an instrument for school absenteeism, I show that school absenteeism has negative effects on secondary school students’ results in a post-secondary high-stakes math exam and university enrollment rates. Instrumental variables estimations suggest that a 10 percentage point decrease in attendance during secondary school is related to a 9.5 percent of a standard deviation decline in the math exam score, and a 3.2 percentage point reduction in the associated probability of university enrollment. I do not find any significant effect on the high-stakes language exam at the 5 percent level. A key finding is the persistent negative effect of school absenteeism on students' academic performance: this negative effect is present even for those students who sat the high-stakes exams three years after the strikes had ended, that is, after three years of regular schooling following the negative shock to their attendance. These results are not driven by inputs to the education production function that might have been affected by the student strikes, such as disruptiveness at the time of the high-stakes exams, school environment, teachers, class instruction, or class size.
Keywords: Student Strikes, School Absenteeism, Secondary School, Educational Attainment
JEL Classification: I20, I21
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation