DP16406 Parental Responses to Information About School Quality: Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data

Author(s): Ellen Greaves, Iftikhar Hussain, Birgitta Rabe, Imran Rasul
Publication Date: July 2021
JEL(s): I20, I24
Programme Areas: Labour Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=16406

Multiple inputs determine children's academic achievement. We study the interaction between family and school inputs by identifying the causal impact of information about school quality on parental time investment into children. Our setting is England, where credible information on school quality is provided by a nationwide school inspection regime. Schools are inspected at short notice, with school ratings using hard and soft information. As such soft information is not necessarily known to parents ex ante, inspection ratings provide news to parents that shifts parental beliefs about school quality, and hence their investment into their children. We study this using household panel data linked to administrative records on school performance and inspection ratings. Within the same academic year, we observe some households being interviewed pre school inspection, and others being interviewed post inspection. Treatment assignment is determined by a household's survey date relative to the school inspection date, and shown to be as good as random. We find that parents receiving good news over school quality significantly decrease time investment into their children (relative to parents that will later receive such good news). Our data and design allow us to provide insights on the distributional and test score impacts of the nationwide inspections regime, through multiple margins of endogenous response of parents and children. Our findings highlight the importance of accounting for interlinked private responses by families to new public information on school quality.