Rethinking Educational Choices: The Effect of Surveys
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Gold Coast (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This paper examines whether individual education choices and outcomes are affected by a survey posing questions related to expectations and forward-looking behavior. We have administrative data for the whole Swedish population to which an extensive education survey was administered to a randomly drawn sample of 3rd graders. This constitutes a randomized social experiment for testing whether responding to survey questions alters behavior. We observe complete educational and labor market histories until the individuals are 31-41 years old. We have exogenous variation in the timing of first surveys and when an additional survey was also administered to parents. The total average causal effect of the survey is not significantly different from zero. However, being surveyed increased educational attainment and job stability in the early career for children whose parents have a low education. We also assess heterogeneity in estimated causal effects and estimate spillover effects on non-surveyed siblings in order to get at potential mechanisms. The patterns indicate the importance of increased parental awareness and investments, but could also be due to peer effects within schools becoming stronger over time.