|dc.description.abstract||This Ph.D. thesis consists of three essays on Labour Economics and the Economics
of Education, having the goal of contributing to the scientific discussion and shed
new light on a number of empirical questions.
The remaining of the chapter presents a general motivation for the study, together
with the main findings and policy implications, which are fully developed
throughout the thesis.
There is an ongoing debate in Economics of Education on the merits and drawbacks
of school choice as opposed to a community-based model, where schools only serve
the local neighbourhood.
Advocates of school choice base their arguments on the economic theory of market
efficiency. First, a more market oriented education system should improve
the match between pupils and schools. In this sense, allowing families to select
schools on the basis of their preferences and teaching needs should result in an
improvement in the average academic achievement. Moreover, increased choice
should help breaking the link between residential and school segregation induced
by a community-based model, with wealthier families living in more affluent neighbourhoods
also attending the best schools. The benefits of choice should be even
more pronounced for low income children who are typically segregated in poor
neighbourhoods served by low quality schools (Gibbons et al., 2008). Second,
school choice is believed to have beneficial effects also on school performance.
Indeed, community-based schools operate in an almost monopolistic market, implying
little incentives to innovate and improve teaching performance. In a world
where parents have strong preferences for quality, a choice based model would increase
competition among schools with the ultimate result of boosting performance
(Hastings et al., 2005; Burgess et al., 2009; Gibbons and Silva, 2011).
On the other hand, scholars in favour of a community-school model claim that
teachers are more likely to perform well in a more stable environment with relatively
low turnover. Moreover, greater choice would replace the link between
neighbourhood and school segregation with sorting across schools on the basis of
family background characteristics. In this sense, they advocate that it would be
more desirable to stick to a community-based model and improve the performance
of lower quality schools via redistribution of resources.
The first two chapters of this thesis aim at shading additional light on the advantages
and disadvantages of school choice models. Specifically, I explore the effects
of a programme introduced in the UK, which aimed at increasing choice among
low income families, on both students’ choices and school behaviour.
The third chapter addresses a different empirical question. Typically, when workers
are rewarded on the basis of team effort the possibility arises that individuals
free ride. However, past literature emphasised the importance of externalities
when groups of agents are concerned. Specifically, group effects such as social
pressure or shame may be strong enough to completely offset free riding (Kandel
and Lazear, 1992; Mas and Moretti, 2009). Using Italian social security data on
private sector employees, the last chapter contributes to the existing literature by
exploring externalities in workers’ shirking, which I recover from information on
sick leave episodes.||en_US