Essays in the Economics of Education
This dissertation comprises three essays in the economics of education. I begin with a paper that evaluates the effectiveness of selective secondary schools. An unique admissions context permits identifying the causal benefits of such institutions for a more heterogeneous sample of students than previous US-based studies. The second essay examines the causes of female under-representation in STEM fields, with a focus on engineering. I decompose the gender gap into explanatory accounts such as academic preparation, ability beliefs, and preferences for prosocial values and professional goals. The final essay investigates the roles of cognitive and non-cognitive skills in explaining high school graduation gaps at the three-way intersection of race, gender, and income. A finding of particular interest is the lagging performance of disadvantaged white students relative to African American peers, even after accounting for skill disparities using a sequential model of educational attainment.
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