Hugh Macartney

Duke University
Department of Economics
239 Social Sciences Building
Box 90097
Durham, NC 27708
Tel: 919/660-1866
Fax: 919/684-8974

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: ED , LS
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

January 2018Education Reform in General Equilibrium: Evidence from California's Class Size Reduction
with Michael Gilraine, Robert McMillan: w24191
This paper sheds new light on general equilibrium responses to major education reforms, focusing on a sorting mechanism likely to operate whenever a reform improves public school quality significantly. It does so in the context of California's statewide class size reduction program of the late-1990s, and makes two main contributions. First, using a transparent differencing strategy that exploits the grade-specific roll-out of the reform, we show evidence of general equilibrium sorting effects: Improvements in public school quality caused marked reductions in local private school shares, consequent changes in public school demographics, and significant increases in local house prices -- the latter indicative of the reform's full impact. Second, using a generalization of the differencing...
July 2017School Boards and Student Segregation
with John D. Singleton: w23619
This paper provides the first causal evidence about how elected local school boards affect student segregation across schools. The key identification challenge is that the composition of a school board is potentially correlated with unobserved determinants of school segregation, such as the pattern of household sorting and the degree to which boards are geographically constrained in defining zones of attendance. We overcome this issue using a regression discontinuity design at the electoral contest level, exploiting quasi-random variation from narrowly-decided elections. Such an approach is made possible by a unique dataset, which combines matched information about North Carolina school board candidates (including vote shares and political affiliation) with time-varying district-level raci...
December 2015Incentive Design in Education: An Empirical Analysis
with Robert McMillan, Uros Petronijevic: w21835
While incentive schemes to elicit greater effort in organizations are widespread, the incentive strength-effort mapping is difficult to ascertain in practice, hindering incentive design. We propose a new semi-parametric method for uncovering this relationship in an education context, using exogenous incentive variation and rich administrative data. The estimated effort response forms the basis of a counterfactual approach tracing the effects of various accountability systems on the full distribution of scores. We show higher average performance comes with greater score dispersion for a given accountability scheme, and that incentive designs not yet enacted can improve performance further, relevant to education reform.
February 2014The Dynamic Effects of Educational Accountability
This paper provides the first evidence that value-added education accountability schemes induce dynamic distortions. Extending earlier dynamic moral hazard models, I propose a new test for ratchet effects, showing that classroom inputs are distorted less when schools face a shorter horizon over which they can influence student performance. I then exploit grade span variation using rich educational data to credibly identify the extent of dynamic gaming, finding compelling evidence of ratchet effects based on a triple-differences approach. Further analysis indicates that these effects are driven primarily by effort distortions, with teacher reallocations playing a secondary role.

Published: Hugh Macartney, 2016. "The Dynamic Effects of Educational Accountability," Journal of Labor Economics, vol 34(1), pages 1-28.

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