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I run through recent economics journal/working paper activity on Monday mornings. Here are some very attenuated bits of interest:

  1. Government mergers of hospitals in England do not produce better outcomes. (Same is true for privates, we knew this and the government went ahead anyway).
  2. High quality grammar school teachers have an impact that lasts a lifetime.  A huge study of over 2 million students with different quality grade 3 through 8 teachers finds that students assigned to better teachers are more likely to go to college (I don’t find this a benefit, but if it does correlate with other good things than great), more likely to go to better colleges, earn higher salaries, live in nicer neighborhoods, and save more for retirement. And confirming the work of Hanushek, they find that if you replace a terrible teacher (lowest 5% of teacher quality distribution per the way they measure it) with an average teacher increases lifetime income by $250,000 for an average classroom. My three points:
    1. These gains are enormous. These are per classroom for each year for having a better teacher. So if we have a classroom get better teachers from 3rd through 8th grade, we’re talking $1.5 million of benefits per cohort of 25 or so students. Multiply that by the number of classrooms with bad teachers and we may have a startlingly large number on our hands.
    2. We’re not talking about putting the greatest teachers in every classroom, just an average one. Considering that the state education and federal education departments are wholly owned subsidiaries of the teachers unions it is hard to imagine we’ll ever see reform this way, it should be extremely maddening that we are being told that “any good policy is on the table” yet these now increasingly important results continue to be fought. By the way, increasing teacher quality may simply be as easy as eliminating state teacher licensing requirements. Remember the average quality of students enrolling in ED schools is at the bottom of the academic quality distribution.
    3. Jonah Rockoff was a classmate of mine at Amherst (and a very good soccer player).
  3. Increasing politicians’ salaries in Europe increases their willingness to run for reelection and does not stop shirking and lowers the quality of elected officials viz education levels. By the way, I am increasingly in favor of having a lottery to determine who our elected officials will be. I will post more on this shortly.
  4. Shocking! Local governments use zoning to keep “undesirables” out of local public school districts.
  5. Lower crop yields encourage people to move. This paper screams for a general equilibrium treatment. It also reminds us that should climate change produce bad outcomes, we don’t just sit there and take ’em.

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