The political economy of school test scores

Prof. Philip Verwimp, Université Libre de Bruxelles

The northern provinces of Burundi have suffered from subordination in the education system since independence. This paper shows that the current, northern-led regime has chosen a drastic way to reverse that subordination. The national test (Concours National) at the end of primary school is at the heart of the matter. Using the universe of individual test score data which can be used to construct a three-year school-level panel data set and difference-in-differences analysis, the paper shows strong improvements in test scores in northern versus southern schools since the ruling party won an absolute majority in the 2010 elections. Schools situated in very poor, rural areas in the north now score as high as schools in non-poor areas of the capital. The paper finds that higher success rates, higher mean test scores and lower standard deviations are explained by the % of votes at the municipality level obtained by the ruling party in the 2010 parliamentary elections. (Changes in) school budgets do not explain the findings. The latter are interpreted in the political economy of education reform in Burundi.

About the speaker

Philip is Professor of Development Economics at Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). He holds BA, MA and MSc degrees in Economics and Sociology from the universities of Antwerp, Leuven and Göttingen. He obtained his PhD in Economics in 2003 from Leuven where his doctoral work was supervised by prof.Stefan Dercon and prof.Lode Berlage. He spent 1,5 years at Yale University, first during his PhD as a Fellow from the Belgian-American Educational Foundation and then as a post-doc with a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship. Philip specialises in the economic causes and consequences of conflict at the micro-level. Currently, Philip is engaged in longitudinal studies of health, schooling and nutrition involving a.o. impact evaluation. In the Fall semester of 2013 he visited the Economics Department of UC Berkeley. His work has been published in a.o. the American Economic Review, the Journal of Human Resources, the Journal of Development Economics, Economic Development and Cultural Change, World Bank Economic Review, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research.

Venue: 0.16/0.17

Date: 06 December 2018

Time: 12:00 - 13:00  CET