Lisa Barrow

Economic Research
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
230 South LaSalle Street
Chicago, IL 60604
Tel: 312-322-5073
Fax: 312-322-2357

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NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2013Financial Incentives and Educational Investment: The Impact of Performance-Based Scholarships on Student Time Use
with Cecilia E. Rouse: w19351
Using survey data from a field experiment in the U.S., we test whether and how financial incentives change student behavior. We find that providing post-secondary scholarships with incentives to meet performance, enrollment, and/or attendance benchmarks induced students to devote more time to educational activities and to increase the quality of effort toward, and engagement with, their studies; students also allocated less time to other activities such as work and leisure. While the incentives did not generate impacts after eligibility had ended, they also did not decrease students' inherent interest or enjoyment in learning. Finally, we present evidence suggesting that students were motivated more by the incentives provided than simply the effect of giving additional money, and that stud...
March 2013The Impact of Chicago's Small High School Initiative
with Amy Claessens, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach: w18889
This project examines the effects of the introduction of new small high schools on student performance in the Chicago Public School (CPS) district. Specifically, we investigate whether students attending small high schools have better graduation/enrollment rates and achievement than similar students who attend regular CPS high schools. We show that students who choose to attend a small school are more disadvantaged on average. To address the selection problem, we use an instrumental variables strategy and compare students who live in the same neighborhoods but differ in their residential proximity to a small school. In this approach, one student is more likely to sign up for a small school than another statistically identical student because the small school is located closer to the studen...

Published: Barrow, Lisa & Schanzenbach, Diane Whitmore & Claessens, Amy, 2015. "The impact of Chicago’s small high school initiative," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 100-113. citation courtesy of

August 2008Technology's Edge: The Educational Benefits of Computer-Aided Instruction
with Lisa Markman, Cecilia E. Rouse: w14240
We present results from a randomized study of a well-defined use of computers in schools: a popular instructional computer program for pre-algebra and algebra. We assess the program using a test designed to target pre-algebra and algebra skills. Students randomly assigned to computer-aided instruction score 0.17 of a standard deviation higher on pre-algebra/algebra tests than students randomly assigned to traditional instruction. We hypothesize that the effectiveness arises from increased individualized instruction as the effects appear larger for students in larger classes and in classes with high student absentee rates.

Published: Lisa Barrow & Lisa Markman & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2009. "Technology's Edge: The Educational Benefits of Computer-Aided Instruction," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 52-74, February. citation courtesy of

July 2002Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending
with Cecilia Elena Rouse: w9054
In this paper we use a 'market-based' approach to examine whether increased school expenditures are valued by potential residents and whether the current level of public school provision is inefficient. We do so by employing an instrumental variables strategy to estimate the effect of state education aid on residential property values. We find evidence that, on net, additional state aid is valued by potential residents and that school districts do not appear to overspend on education. We also find that school districts may overspend in areas in which residents are poor or less educated, in large districts, and in districts with higher shares of rental property. One interpretation of these results is that increased competition has the potential to reduce overspending on public schools in so...

Published: Barrow, Lisa and Cecilia Elena Rouse. "Using Market Valuation To Assess Public School Spending," Journal of Public Economics, 2004, v88(9-10,Aug), 1747-1769. citation courtesy of

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