Immigrating to opportunity: Estimating the effect of school quality using a natural experiment on Ethiopians in Israel

Eric D. Gould, Victor Lavy, M. Daniele Paserman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations

Abstract

In May 1991 fifteen thousand Ethiopian Jews were brought to Israel in an overnight airlift and sorted in a haphazard and essentially random fashion to absorption centers across the country. This quasi-random assignment produced a natural experiment whereby the initial schooling environment of Ethiopian children can be considered exogenous to their family background and parental decisions. We examine the extent to which the initial elementary school environment affected the high school outcomes of Ethiopian children, using administrative panel data on the educational career of each child in Israel through much of the 1990s. The results show that the early schooling environment has an important effect on high school dropout rates, repetition rates, and the passing rate on matriculation exams necessary to enter college. The results are robust to using alternative measures of the schooling environment and to the inclusion of community fixed effects, which suggests that aspects of the elementary school itself are important for high school success.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)489-526
Number of pages38
JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
Volume119
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2004

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