NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Richard Murphy

Department of Economics
University of Texas at Austin
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Austin, TX 78712
Tel: 512/475-8525

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NBER Program Affiliations: ED
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

August 2018Top of the Class: The Importance of Ordinal Rank
with Felix Weinhardt: w24958
This paper establishes a new fact about educational production: ordinal academic rank during primary school has long-run impacts that are independent from underlying ability. Using data on the universe of English school students, we exploit naturally occurring differences in achievement distributions across primary school classes to estimate the impact of class rank conditional on relative achievement. We find large effects on test scores, confidence and subject choice during secondary school, where students have a new set of peers and teachers who are unaware of the students’ prior ranking. The effects are especially large for boys, contributing to an observed gender gap in end-of-high school STEM subject choices. Using a basic model of student effort allocation across subjects, we derive...
September 2017The End of Free College in England: Implications for Quality, Enrolments, and Equity
with Judith Scott-Clayton, Gillian Wyness: w23888
Despite increasing financial pressures on higher education systems throughout the world, many governments remain resolutely opposed to the introduction of tuition fees, and some countries and states where tuition fees have been long established are now reconsidering free higher education. This paper examines the consequences of charging tuition fees on university quality, enrolments, and equity. To do so, we study the English higher education system which has, in just two decades, moved from a free college system to one in which tuition fees are among the highest in the world. Our findings suggest that England’s shift has resulted in increased funding per head, rising enrolments, and a narrowing of the participation gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. In contrast to other sy...
 
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