1. Specialists or All-rounders: How best to select university students? [Submitted]
Abstract: This paper studies whether universities should select their students only using specialised subject-specific tests, or on the basis of a broader set of skills and knowledge. The empirical analysis is guided by a theoretical framework. The theoretical model shows that even if broader skills are not improving graduates' outcomes in the labour market, the university chooses to use them as a criterion for selection alongside the mastery of more subject-specific tools. This is so because broader skills allow the university to select candidates who are on average abler. I test the model on a large administrative dataset of Portuguese students. Within programmes, I exploit the variation between specific and non-specific entrance exam sets. My central finding is that, on average, universities with less specialised admission policies admit a pool of students who obtain a higher final GPA.
Media Briefing at RES [here]
2. Clustered local average treatment effects: fields of study and academic student progress [Submitted]
Abstract: Multiple unordered treatments with a binary instrument for each treatment are common in policy evaluation. This multiple treatment setting allows for different types of changes in treatment status that are non-compliant with the activated instrument. Therefore, instrumental variable (IV) methods have to rely on strong assumptions on the subjects' behavior to identify local average treatment effects (LATEs). This paper introduces a new IV strategy that identifies an interpretable weighted average of LATEs under relaxed assumptions, in the presence of clusters with similar treatments. The clustered LATEs allow for shifts across treatment clusters that are consistent with preference updating, but render IV estimation of individual LATEs biased. The clustered LATEs are estimated by standard IV methods, and we provide an algorithm that estimates the treatment clusters. We empirically analyze the effect of fields of study on academic student progress, and find violations of the LATE assumptions in line with preference updating, clusters with similar fields, treatment effect heterogeneity across students, and significant differences in student progress due to fields of study.
3. High school and exam scores: Does their predictive validity for academic performance vary with programme selectivity? [Submitted]
(join with Carla Sá, Ricardo Biscaia and Pedro N. Teixeira)
Abstract: Students are admitted into higher education based on their past performance. This paper compares two measures of past cognitive skills: teacher and national exam scores. By using a nationwide dataset, we look at how the predictive power of teacher assessment and exam scores for selecting successful students may vary with the degree of selectivity of higher education programmes. We find that teacher scores predict students' performance in higher education more accurately, and its predictive power remains the same independently of the selectivity programme indicator considered. We found that national exam scores are noisier and only gain relevance for highly selective programmes. Furthermore, we explore national exams' volatility and institutional selectivity as potential mechanisms to justify the results. Our results provide solid policy hints on the role that high school scores and admission exams should have for access and performance in higher education.
Working paper available at IZA Discussion Papers No. 15350 [here]
(This paper won the María Jesus San Segundo Award in the AEDE 2022 in the category of the best paper award for young researchers)
Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals (in Economics)
4. Student Selection and Performance in Higher Education: Admission Exams vs. High School Scores, Education Economics, 2020, 28:5, 437-454.
(with Ana Balcão Reis, Carmo Seabra, Luis Catela Nunes, and Miguel Alves)
Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals (in Education)
5. Competition and diversification in higher education: Analysing impacts on access and equity in the case of Portugal, European Journal of Education, 2022, 00, 1–20
(with Pedro N. Teixeira, Ricardo Biscaia, and Carla Sá)
Selected Work in Progress
7. Grade Inflation in high school
(with Stephen L. DesJardins, Pedro N. Teixeira, Carla Sá, and Ricardo Biscaia)
8. When Girls Choose STEM
(with Ana Rute Cardoso and Louis-Phillipe Morin)
9. Degrees of Inequality: Analysing the transition from first to second cycle degrees
(with Pedro Teixeira, Carla Sá, Hugo Figueiredo and Ricardo Biscaia)