Working Papers

The Long Shadow of School Closures: Impacts on Students' Educational and Labor Market Outcomes 

pdf | SSRN

Each year, over a thousand public schools in the US close due to declining enrollments and chronic low performance, displacing hundreds of thousands of students. Using Texas administrative data and empirical strategies that use within-student across-time and within-school across-cohort variation, I explore the impact of school closures on students' educational and labor market outcomes. The findings indicate that experiencing school closures results in disruptions in both test scores and behavior. While the drop in test scores is recovered within three years, behavioral issues persist. This study further finds decreases in post-secondary education attainment, employment, and earnings at ages 25–27. These impacts are particularly pronounced among students in secondary education, Hispanic students, and those from originally low-performing schools and economically disadvantaged families.

From Population Growth to Demographic Scarcity: Emerging Challenges to Global Primary Education Provision in the Twenty-first Century

with Emily Hannum and Fan Wang

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Demographic pressures are shaping challenges to educational provision in fundamental and disparate ways around the world.  In some societies, ever-increasing child cohort sizes continue to exerted expansionary pressures. In many others, a regime of declining, sparse child cohorts has eased those pressures, but presents new challenges as systems must navigate geospatial complexities to downsize. In this paper, we demonstrate first that recent demographic trends constitute a highly dis-equalizing force on primary educational provision globally, with persistent expansionary pressures affecting almost exclusively some of the world's least-resourced educational systems. Second, where demographic decline has countered expansionary pressures, we demonstrate significant variation in national educational responses to demographic scarcity.  Finally, focusing on Korea, the country at the forefront of ultra-low fertility, we illustrate the emergence of new forms of spatial educational inequalities in the context of depopulation.  We argue that the implications of demographic pressures for achieving policy goals related to educational access and quality, the presence or absence of migration as a mitigating or exacerbating factor, and the nature of educational policy responses constitute essential yet neglected research agendas in the demography of education.  

Friendship Formation by Race and Achievement: Implications on Racial Gaps in Friends and Earnings 

with Weonhyeok Chung

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This paper investigates adolescent friendship formation, focusing on race and academic achievement. Using dyadic regression and social network data of students from Add Health, we demonstrate that students tend to form friendships within their racial group and with similar GPAs. We further find comparable sensitivities to GPA differences between Black and White student pairs, with less pronounced sensitivities in cross-racial friendships. Through counterfactual analysis using regression coefficients and GPA distributions, we present that fewer friendships observed among high-achieving Black students, in comparison to their White peers, are attributed to the scarcity of high-achieving Black students. Our estimations suggest that this disparity in friendships among high-achieving Black students significantly contributes to the earnings gap between Black and White individuals.

Noncognitive Skills and the Gender Gap in Education and Labor Market Outcome

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As women surpass men in educational attainment, researchers suggest women have lower psychic costs of schooling. To understand the implications, I incorporate noncognitive skills as a factor lowering psychic costs into the Becker model of human capital, generating predictions about gender gaps in skills, education, and wages. Using NLSY97, I find women’s higher noncognitive skills explain one-third of the educational gap. While women overall have higher cognitive skills, they exhibit lower cognitive skills compared to men at the same educational level. As a result, the skill gaps from educational sorting explain 12 percent of the wage gap for college graduates.

Selected Work in Progress

Neighborhood and Student Outcomes [Texas ERC Project # UH 80] 

Pre-doctoral Papers