🛑JMP Thread🛑

Hello, #EconTwitter! I'm a current JMC at @columbia_econ.

Together with @MinseonPark1 (PhD student @WIeconomics), I study the relationship of school choices across multiple educational stages and its implication on racial segregation in my JMP.

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Interrelated nature of school choices seems apparent:

parents: often know choosing “right” middle schools → good high schools → good colleges
policy-makers: often view multiple stages as alternative venues of policy intervention
BUT most studies have focused on each school choice stage in isolation from other choices.

We explicitly ask:

1⃣ Do middle schools affect students’ high school choice and outcomes, and if so, how?

2⃣ What does it imply about racial segregation across schools?
How we answer:
Use NYC middle and high school choice data to

1⃣ Estimate treatment effects of middle schools on high school application and assignment

2⃣ Develop a two-period dynamic model of school choice
What we find:

1⃣ Middle schools do impact the outcomes of high school choice, mainly by changing students’ applications

2⃣ Using such a relationship, early intervention in middle-school admission reforms can contribute to desegregating high schools
More details:

We first use quasi-random assignments to middle schools by the “tie-breaking” (e.g. lotteries) of the admissions system.

Intuition: compare 2 students who faced equal ex-ante admission probability, but tie-breaking made their middle school assignments different
students who attend high-achievement middle schools apply and are assigned to high schools of higher quality:

apply to high schools w/ 2pp↑ college enrollment
assigned to high schools w/ 3.5pp↑ college enrollment
We then turn to a model in which:

1⃣ Middle schools can affect how a) students apply to high schools, b) high schools rank students

2⃣ Students consider these effects when applying to middle schools

3⃣ Serially correlated unobservable tastes on schools ⇒ source of sorting
Estimates tell us:

1⃣ Middle schools do affect high school choice
e.g. high-achievement middle schools make students want to travel +0.11 miles for +10pp in % high performers

2⃣ Middle schools’ effects on high school choice outcomes are mostly by changing student’s application
Motivated by our findings + ongoing reform in NYC (nytimes.com/2020/12/18/nyr…),

we ask:
“Can an early affirmative action policy address segregation in later stages?”
A: middle school-ONLY affirmative action policy can change students’ high school applications and hence their assignments, contributing to desegregating BOTH middle and high schools

e.g. racial gap in quality of assigned schools
↓40% for middle school, ↓10% for high school

1⃣ Middle schools are important in determining the outcomes of high school choice → crucial to consider such relationship in any analysis of school choice

2⃣ Using such a relationship, early intervention in admission reforms can be a powerful lever for desegregation
Thank you for reading! You can find more about me and my papers:


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