NBER Working Papers by Avraham Ebenstein

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Working Papers

October 2014The Long Run Human Capital and Economic Consequences of High-Stakes Examinations
with Victor Lavy, Sefi Roth: w20647
Cognitive performance during high-stakes exams can be affected by random disturbances that, even if transitory, may have permanent consequences for long-term schooling attainment and labor market outcomes. We evaluate this hypothesis among Israeli high school students who took a series of high stakes matriculation exams between 2000 and 2002. As a source of random (transitory) shocks to high- stakes matriculation test scores, we use exposure to ambient air pollution during the day of the exam. First, we document a significant and negative relationship between average PM2.5 exposure during exams and student composite scores, post-secondary educational attainment, and earnings during adulthood. Second, using PM2.5 as an instrument, we estimate a large economic return to each point on the exa...
The Impact of Short Term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution on Cognitive Performance and Human Capital Formation
with Victor Lavy, Sefi Roth: w20648
Cognitive performance is critical to productivity in many occupations and potentially linked to pollution exposure. We evaluate this potentially important relationship by estimating the effect of pollution exposure on standardized test scores among Israeli high school high-stakes tests (2000-2002). Since students take multiple exams on multiple days in the same location after each grade, we can adopt a fixed effects strategy estimating models with city, school, and student fixed effects. We focus on fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and carbon monoxide (CO), which are considered to be two of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. We find that while PM2.5 and CO levels are only weakly correlated with each other, both exhibit a robust negative relationship with test scores. We also find th...
July 2011Chemical Fertilizer and Migration in China
with Jian Zhang, Margaret S. McMillan, Kevin Chen: w17245
This paper examines a possible connection between China's massive rural to urban migration and high chemical fertilizer use rates during the late 1980s and 1990s. Using panel data on villages in rural China (1987-2002), we find that labor out-migration and fertilizer use per hectare are positively correlated. Using 2SLS, employing the opening of a Special Economic Zone in a nearby city as an instrument, we find that village fertilizer use is linked to contemporaneous short-term out-migration of farm workers. We also examine the long-term environmental consequences of chemical fertilizer use during this period. Using OLS, we find that fertilizer use intensity is correlated with future fertilizer use rates and diminished effectiveness of fertilizer, demonstrating persistency in use patterns,...
June 2009Why are American Workers getting Poorer? Estimating the Impact of Trade and Offshoring Using the CPS
with Ann Harrison, Margaret McMillan, Shannon Phillips: w15107
Previous studies typically find small or insignificant effects of globalization on US workers. We argue that much of the impact on wages has been missed because globalization has led workers to move from higher paid manufacturing jobs to lower paid service jobs. To show this, we link industry-level data on trade and offshoring with individual-level worker data from the Current Population Surveys. Previous research focused on industry-level exposure to globalization, which we show has no significant impact on worker wages. Our new measure of occupational exposure to globalization shows significant effects of globalization on wages. Offshoring to low wage countries is associated with wage declines for US workers, and the workers most affected are those performing routine tasks. Import compet...

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