Working papers (completed, but not yet published)

New book on Czech educational inequality and returns to education

I just finished a new book on Czech educational inequality and returns to education (in Czech), entitled “Nůžky v českém školství: Důsledky selekce a diferenciace na vzdělanostních a pracovních příležitostech v České republice” (ISBN:  978-80-7344-491-4). It will come out in early 2019, and the PDF will be available here. The book presents new estimates of educational equality by family background and gender across cohorts, new estimates of gender gaps in Czech scholastic achievement and educational credentials, as well as new estimates of wage returns to education as well as estimates of the association between educational tracks and subsequent social class. Stay tuned!

Michael L. Smith, “The Czech Sorting Machine: The Role of Educational Pathways on Occupational and Class Attainment in the Czech Republic”

This article introduces a new approach to the study of the association between education and socio-economic outcomes in the Czech Republic: educational pathways, which are the primary channels of study involving at least two educational transitions, which themselves have qualitatively different tracks. Based on Czech Household Panel Study data, we operationalize Czech educational pathways between secondary and tertiary education, and examine the role of eight different educational paths on ESeC-derived social classes. Based on the ordered logit model, we compute the predicted probability that specific educational pathways would lead to a specific class status, controlling for family background, gender and age. We find that the educational pathway approach yields distinct insights about the education-class link that would be masked had we studied only highest level of education attained. The educational pathway approach could, therefore, be a fruitful way to approach other areas of Czech social stratification research. Download PDF here.

Michael L. Smith, Dana Hamplova, Jonathan Kelley and Mariah Evans. “Concise Survey Measures for the Big Five Personality Traits”

With a few notable exceptions, sociologists, economists, and public opinion researchers have generally neglected the role of personality in status attainment, well-being, and related research. This is partly because the existing measurement instruments for the well known Big Five personality traits are far too long for inclusion in the large nationwide (as opposed to clinical) surveys where status attainment and well-being are typically analyzed. Accordingly, with the goal of identifying a powerful, concise collection of items measuring key personality traits, we included the classical full 60-item NEO-5 personality test measurements in a special follow-up to the Czech edition of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC; n=2198). Using classical measurement techniques of factor analysis, supplemented by structural equation analyses which also take into account correlations with criterion variables, we assess the value of the different potential items. We arrive at a concise set that, for general social science as opposed to clinical purposes, adequately measures two of the Big Five personality traits: extraversion (4 items) and conscientiousness (4 items). We also find an empirically highly reliable measure of third, neuroticism (6 items), but have some doubts about its conceptual meaning. We do not find adequate measures of openness to experience or to agreeableness, the remainder of the Big Five.

Michael L. Smith, Daniel Munich, Shu-Ling Tsai. “Selection Bias in Returns to College Education across Europe”

Information on economic returns to college education has indisputable value for policymakers and individuals, yet standard estimates hinge on unrealistic assumptions about the homogeneity of treatment effects across the population or do not take into account differences in the backgrounds of college-goers and non-college-goers. In this article we address those issues by using the newly developed local instrumental variable method for heterogeneous treatment effects due to unobservables presented in general form in Heckman, Urzua, and Vytlacil (2006). Estimates are performed for 28-to-38-year-olds in 22 EU countries participating in the 2011 EU-SILC survey, i.e. the most recent wave when data on parental background was also collected. Our results reveal the presence of negative ability bias – i.e. that Mincer-type returns to college strongly underestimate those returns compared to models utilizing the Heckman estimation procedure – particularly in countries with the lowest degrees of educational opportunity at the tertiary level. On the other hand, the degree of ability bias tends to decline as educational opportunity rises, leading to insignificant differences between OLS and MTE estimates for some countries. Download earlier version here.