Research by Eric Brunner, Shaun Dougherty and Steve Ross on Career and Technical Education

Research by Eric Brunner, Shaun Dougherty and Steve Ross on Career and Technical Education in Connecticut has been featured recently by both the Brookings-Brown Center and in The Conversation.

As described in an article for UConn Today:

Career and Technical H.S. Grads Have More Initial Earning Power, Study Says

Males who graduate from career and technical high schools in Connecticut earn more than their peers in the years immediately following graduation, according to a new study by the University of Connecticut.

Through age 23, the career and technical high school graduates earned 31% more than students who graduated from traditional high schools, according to the team from UConn’s departments of public policy, economics, and education.

The past decade has witnessed a resurgence in interest in career and technical education as an alternative pathway for high school students, the authors write in their study, published in the Annenberg Institute’s education working paper series.

“Career and technical education has been an important strategy for improving the economic opportunities of students who might not pursue a traditional four-year college degree,” says author Eric Brunner, UConn professor of economics and policy. “This is especially important given the declining opportunities for non-college educated workers.”

Even as the job market evolves, researchers found positive results for both the educational and labor market outcomes for students at the 16 technical high schools in Connecticut, where 7% of the state’s students enroll.

The team examined data on approximately 57,000 eighth-graders from 2006-2013, through age 23.

They found that male students who went to career and technical high school in Connecticut were about 10% more likely to graduate high school, with the improved labor market outcomes being accompanied by a roughly 8% dip in their likelihood to attend college.

Being disadvantaged, being eligible for free-lunch programs, and more likely to have lower scores on standardized tests did not lower the effectiveness of the career and technical high schools, Brunner says.

However, the findings were limited to males. There were not any noticeable effects in attending a career technical school, either positive or negative, for females, says Stephen Ross, co-author and UConn professor of economics.

“One of our next goals is to look closer at females in these settings and hopefully come up with some answers,” says Ross.

Additionally, in December of 2019, the researchers are slated to receive data on the eighth-graders through the age of 26, providing a fuller picture of the effects.

The study comes as the government continues to invest in this area of education. In 2018, the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act was reauthorized, providing $1.2 billion in funding for these programs and job training for students.

Can this study be applied to other states? Possibly, says Ross. While the data clearly shows the positive effect of career technical schools, it’s important to take into account the format of Connecticut.

“For most states, career technical high schools are all over but in Connecticut they really have it as a whole model with one umbrella, one superintendent and its own district,” Ross says.

Further, the degree of career and technical education offered by a traditional high school may impact the findings.

“If your [traditional high] school had a lot of career technical education then getting into the system wasn’t as important,” says Brunner. But if the traditional high school did not, “you got a bigger payoff for going to a career technical high school.”

Professor Ross in the AEA Papers and Proceedings

Professor Ross’s work with former students Jesse Kalinowski (Quinnipiac) and Matt Ross (NYU) was published in the 2019 American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings.

In this paper, they document that police change where they patrol and the types of infractions that they monitor when darkness falls.  This behavior has important implications for attempts to test for racial profiling in traffic stops where often stops at night when race cannot be observed are used as a benchmark to determining whether police disproportionately stop minority motorists during the day (non-gated link to working paper below).

Professor Ross’s Research Featured in AEA Research Highlights

Professor Stephen Ross’s paper “Partners in Crime,” examining the effect of neighborhoods and school on criminal partnerships, was featured this past week in the AEA Research Highlights

The full paper was published last month in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Professor Ross in American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Professor Ross, with coauthors Billing and Deming, finds strong evidence of very localized neighborhood effects in both the commission of crimes and the creation of criminal partnerships among older teenagers and young adults (within 1/2 KM).

These localized effects appear to facilitated by relationships created within schools, and do not exist between youth who live very close to each other, but were resided on opposite sides of the same school attendance zone.

American Economic Journal: Applied Economics
Vol. 11, No. 1, January 2019
(pp. 126-50)

Steve Ross published in REStat

Steve Ross’s recent paper on the effect of the No Child Left Behind Act on local property values with Steve Billings and Eric Brunner was just published in the first issue of 2018 in the Review of Economics and Statistics.

In this paper, they show that property values near failing schools sometimes actually increase in value consistent with individuals moving into those neighborhoods to take advantage of the enhanced school choice opportunities available when a family’s children are assigned to a failing school.

Professor Ross Published in Review of Financial Studies

Professor Ross’s paper “What Drives Racial and Ethnic Differences in High-Cost Mortgages? The Role of High-Risk Lenders” was just published in the Review of Financial Studies, a Top 3 Finance Journal.

This paper documents the existence of large differences in the cost of credit for minority borrowers, and the fact that most of the racial differences arise across lenders, rather than being driven by lenders who treat equally qualified minority borrowers differently than white borrowers.  The paper shows that these effects are primarily driven by lenders whose loans tended to have very high default rates during the crisis.

Early College Experience (ECE) Economics Program Workshop

The Early College Experience (ECE) Economics Program presented a workshop on October 31 for Connecticut high school teachers offering Principles of Micro and Macro Economics (Econ 1201 and 1202) and Essentials of Economics (Econ 1000) in their high schools.  The economics program now has certified 39 instructors as either Adjunct Professors of Economics or Preceptors in Economics. Twenty-nine of them choose to attend the workshop.

The teachers were instructed on the economics of climate change by Wensu Li, one of UCONN’s knowledgeable graduate students who discussed what one could teach in the principles classes about climate change.  Professor Paul Tomolonis, Assistant Professor of Economics, Western New England University and Adjunct Professor of Economics University of Connecticut, reflected on earnings management with the workshop participants.  He used earnings managment as an example of misallocation of resources. Professor Stephen L. Ross, Professor of Economics, University of Connecticut described the importance of distinguishing between permanent shocks and transitory shocks to the macro economy and the day was concluded with Professor Dennis Heffley, Professor of Economics, University of Connecticut, Emeritus who addressed the workshop on the teaching of health economics at the principles level.

Finally, three of the teachers (Ms. Vancil, Shelton, Ms. Pelling, West Hartford, and Mr. Staffaroni from New Canaan) spent a few minutes over lunch to shared one of their learning experiences with their colleagues gained while attending the Joint Council on Economic Education Conference in New York City in early October.

UCONN ECE is a concurrent enrollment program that allows motivated high school students to take UCONN courses at their high schools for both high school and college credit. Every course taken through UCONN ECE is equivalent to the same course at the University of Connecticut. Students benefit by taking college courses in a setting that is both familiar and conducive to learning. High school instructors who have been certified through the University of Connecticut serve as adjunct faculty members and teach UCONN ECE courses. Established in 1955, UCONN ECE is the nation’s longest running concurrent enrollment program and is accredited by The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.

Professor Ross in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Professor Ross was invited to write a commentary on measuring trends in discrimination.  Specifically, Professor Ross carefully lays out the potential, but also the challenges, of exploiting multiple field studies of discrimination combined with meta-analysis techniques in order to measure changes over time in the level of discrimination.  Professor Ross notes recent research in the same journal that shows very stable levels of employment discrimination against African-Americans over several decades in the U.S.  On the other hand, his own research has documented substantial declines in the level of housing discrimination, especially among real estate agents for owner-occupied housing. Below is a link to the commentary.