Journal article

How does education improve cognitive skills? Instructional time versus timing of instruction

Sarah C Dahmann

Labour Economics | Elsevier BV | Published : 2017


This paper investigates two mechanisms through which education may affect cognitive skills in adolescence, exploiting a school reform carried out at the state level in Germany as a quasi-natural experiment to identify causal effects: between 2001 and 2007, years at academic-track high school were reduced by one, leaving the overall curriculum unchanged. First, I exploit the variation over time and across states to identify the effect of an increase in class hours on same-aged students' intelligence scores, using data on seventeen year-olds from the German Socio-Economic Panel. Second, I investigate the influence of earlier instruction at younger ages, using data from the German National Educ..

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Funding Acknowledgements

This paper was largely written while I was at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) and I gratefully acknowledge funding from the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. I thank two anonymous reviewers as well as Silke Anger, Stijn Baert, Deborah Cobb-Clark, Friederike von Haaren, Susanne Kuger, Adam Lederer, Henning Lohmann, Bettina Siflinger, C. Katharina Spiess, Stefan C. Wolter, and seminar and conference participants at DIW Berlin, the Annual Conference of the European Association of Labour Economists, the Annual Conference of the European Economic Association, the Annual Conference of the European Society for Population Economics, the Annual Conference of the Verein fur Socialpolitik, the Annual Conference of the Scottish Economic Society, the International Workshop of Applied Economics of Education, the IZA European Summer School in Labor Economics, the Trondheim Workshop on "Education, Skills, and Labor Market Outcomes", the International Young Scholar SOEP Symposium, the Spring Meeting of Young Economists, and the Essen Health Conference for helpful comments and discussions. I declare that I have no conflict of interest.