Heterogeneous Class Size Effects: New Evidence from a Panel of University Students

42 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by Oriana Bandiera

Oriana Bandiera

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Valentino Larcinese

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Imran Rasul

University College London - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: October 2009

Abstract

Over the last decade, many countries have experienced dramatic increases in university enrolment, which, when not matched by compensating increases in other inputs, have resulted in larger class sizes. Using administrative records from a leading UK university, we present evidence on the effects of class size on students' test scores. We observe the same student and faculty members being exposed to a wide range of class sizes from less than 10 to over 200. We therefore estimate non-linear class size effects controlling for unobserved heterogeneity of both individual students and faculty. We find that -- (i) at the average class size, the effect size is -.108; (ii) the effect size is however negative and significant only for the smallest and largest ranges of class sizes and zero over a wide range of intermediate class sizes; (iii) students at the top of the test score distribution are more affected by changes in class size, especially when class sizes are very large. We present evidence to rule out class size effects being due solely to the non-random assignment of faculty to class size, sorting by students onto courses on the basis of class size, omitted inputs, the difficulty of courses, or grading policies. The evidence also shows the class size effects are not mitigated for students with greater knowledge of the UK university system, this university in particular, or with greater family wealth.

Keywords: class size, heterogeneity, university education

JEL Classification: A20, D23, I23

Suggested Citation

Bandiera, Oriana and Larcinese, Valentino and Rasul, Imran, Heterogeneous Class Size Effects: New Evidence from a Panel of University Students (October 2009). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP7512, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1507508

Oriana Bandiera (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines (STICERD) ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
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Germany

Valentino Larcinese

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Imran Rasul

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom
+44 20 7679 5853 (Phone)
+44 20 7916 2775 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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