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Title: The Impact of Vocational Education on Students’ Academic Outcomes: Evidence from the Dominican Republic
Authors: Haegg, Isabella
Advisors: Neilson, Christopher
Department: Economics
Certificate Program: Finance Program
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: In this thesis, I examine the impact of vocational secondary education on students’ academic outcomes in a developing country, the Dominican Republic, and estimate the returns to public investment in vocational high school. Using an empirical strategy similar to that of Card (1993), which uses variation in school proximity as an instrumental variable to evaluate the returns to schooling, I find attending vocational high school relative to academic high school boosts the average student’s 12th grade standardized test scores by up to 0.4 standard deviations. I identify substantially larger impacts for certain school and student profiles, including poorer and lower-scoring male students. Further, I find vocational high school increases the probability of on-time graduation and likelihood of college application, and boosts students’ college admission test scores by 0.3 standard deviations. From fieldwork conducted in the Dominican Republic, where I surveyed a range of vocational high schools and interviewed policymakers within the Ministry of Education, I identify five main organizational and operational factors that contribute to these vocational high schools’ success: managerial autonomy, curriculum and classroom design, hiring practices and teacher quality, school climate, and student body composition. While creating these conditions necessitates greater investment relative to academic high school, I find the benefit of an average vocational high school’s impact on a student’s 12th grade standardized tests alone translates to a net present value of RD$28,252 per student. These findings contribute to the slim literature on the causal impacts of vocational education in developing countries and suggest that the Dominican Republic’s strategy of investing in vocational education has increased human capital.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics, 1927-2023

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