Working Paper 11/276 - abstract

Student effort and educational attainment: Using the England football team to identify the education production function (PDF, 1,203 Kb) (PDF, 1,202kB)

Robert Metcalfe, Simon Burgess and Steven Proud

We use a sharp, exogenous and repeated change in the value of leisure to identify the impact of student effort on educational achievement. The treatment arises from the partial overlap of the world’s major international football tournaments with the exam period in England. Our data enable a clean difference-in-difference design. Performance is measured using the high-stakes tests that all students take at the end of compulsory schooling. We find a strongly significant effect: the average impact of a fall in effort is 0.12 SDs of student performance, significantly larger for male and disadvantaged students, as high as many educational policies.