Advanced Training

Take a look at the work of our students

Here you can consult the most recent Master's thesis and PhD dissertations from our students and team, and get information on our advanced training, namely our Master's courses and PhD program.

Completed Master's Work Projects

Sofia da Cruz Gomes. "The impact of teacher turnover on student performance: evidence from Portugal".

Advisors: Luís Catela Nunes e Pedro Freitas

Teacher turnover is a much-discussed topic in education policy debates. Nevertheless, there is no study measuring its impacts on student achievement for the Portuguese context, characterized by a rigid and centralized teacher allocation model. We measure teacher turnover as the yearly share of new-to-school teachers and estimate its causal effects on 6th grade students’ exam scores. A small, yet statistically significant negative effect is found, being stronger for students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, females, and those with lower previous achievement. We also find that students in socially-disadvantaged schools suffer a double penalty from teacher turnover. No differences were detected for students who had the same teacher in the 5th and 6th grades and those who had not, suggesting organizational disruption as a main driver of teacher turnover effects.

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Sara Madeira Cal. "Regional Disparities in Socioeconomic-based Gender Achievement Gaps".

Advisors: Luís Catela Nunes e Pedro Freitas

We define Socioeconomic-Based Gender Achievement Gap as the difference between females’ and males’ achievement conditional on socioeconomic background and present estimates for 278 municipalities in Portugal. Achievement is based on national exams scores in Portuguese Language and Mathematics. When considering the proportion of students who achieve a passing score, the pooled subjects gaps are consistently larger for students from less privileged backgrounds. Regardless of socioeconomic background, the gaps tend to be larger in higher grades and when considering Portuguese Language, and smaller in Mathematics. We examine regional disparities in the gaps and explore their association with regional factors. The gaps are, on average, larger in more religious, less densely populated and less educated municipalities, and in municipalities where the wage difference between males and females is lower.

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João Pedro Ramos Ferreira. "Sibling Spillovers in Educational Achievement: Evidence from Tanzania".

Advisor: Wayne Sandholtz

Sibling spillovers have been increasingly documented in several domains, but the effect of older siblings’ educational achievement on one’s academic success has received less attention in applied research. Evidence from developing countries is particularly scarce. I use multiyear data on national exam scores from Tanzania to estimate sibling spillover effects from passing the PSLE, a high-stakes test that determines eligibility to enroll in government-run secondary schools. Exploiting this discontinuity in exposure to schooling opportunities around the passing score, I find no conclusive evidence of sibling spillovers. This result is robust to the consideration of possible heterogeneity by sibling gender match.

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Ana Carolina Alves Martins. "The Impact of The Evaluation Scheme in Students' Achievement of Work Project".

Advisor: Ana Balcão Reis

This work project explores the impact of course evaluation structure on the students’ final grade, using the constructed Syllabi Database, together with the information dataset about Nova School of Business and Economics for the period between 2009/2010 and 2018/2019. Written evaluations, namely exams, constitute the highest-weighted evaluation components, underlying the traditional high importance of formal assessments in the Education System. A negative influence of exams’ weight and written evaluations’ weight on the final grade of the student was found. On the other hand, results indicate a positive impact of group projects’ weight. Finally, results are different for female and male students, with female students performing worse the higher the weight of formal evaluation components.


Beatriz Casaca César. "Sources of Inequality in Portugal's Educational Achievement".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Pedro Freitas, Ricardo Colaço

Using PISA data, this work project examines the contribution of family characteristics and school inputs to the inequality in Portuguese students’ academic achievement and assesses how this contribution has evolved in the last two decades. The results suggest that, consistently throughout the years, the family of the peers in the school is the main observable determinant of educational achievement. School inputs play a smaller role in explaining the variance in test scores. There is, however, a decrease in the part of the variance in test scores that is explained by these two factors. Some heterogeneity effects are observed between regions.


Gonçalo Ferreira Amaro. "The Effect of a School Library Network on Student Achievement: Evidence from Portugal".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Pedro Freitas

In this paper, we study the case of a Portuguese school library network for public schools that provides both guidance and funding. We estimate the impact of schools integrating this network on student achievement using a Difference-in-Differences approach. Using information from three large administrative datasets and information obtained from Rede de Bibliotecas Escolares’ website, and focusing on the 4th grade national exam scores of Portuguese and Mathematics, we find small to no effects of the program on student achievement. Heterogenous positive effects are, however, found for students who benefit from social support, increasing their probability of getting a good grade.


Greta Schnaack. "The educational impacts of a major school infrastructure programme: Causal evidence from Portugal".

Advisors: Pedro Freitas, Susana Peralta

This paper studies the educational impacts of an extensive modernisation programme of public schools in Portugal. In the school years between 2007/08 and 2011/12, 1.2 billion Euros of government spending were directed to improve the infrastructure of public schools, aiming to enhance learning environments. Using large-scale administrative educational panel data, with over 3 million individual specific observations from 2007-2018, and information on the modernisation programme in each school, we implement a difference-in-differences empirical strategy to test if investments influenced student achievement in external examinations. As most estimates are insignificant, we conclude that the modernisation programme had no clear positive impact on student achievement.

Márcia Filipa Alves Serra. "The Impact of Commuting on Higher Education Students’ Academic Performance".

Advisor: Ana Balcão Reis, Pedro Freitas

Commuting is part of the daily lives particularly in large urban areas. We use a campus reallocation as a source of exogenous variation of commuting times to estimate the impact of commuting on students' outcomes. This is the first quasi-experimental study of the impact of commuting on higher education students' academic achievement. Our results show that an increase of 10 minutes in commuting time leads to a decrease between 6 p.p and 8 p.p of a standard deviation in the students' GPA.


Luís Manuel Gomes Diogo Lopes Ribeiro. "The Socioeconomic Gap Between Teacher and Test-Based Assessments".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Maria do Carmo Seabra, Luís Catela Nunes

The goal of this Master’s thesis is to analyze whether teacher and test-based assessments differ systematically between low-income and high-income students throughout the Portuguese education system. Nationwide data on students and their assessments in 14 subjects in the 6th, 9th, 11th and 12th grades from 2008 to 2018 was analyzed following linear specifications to test whether there are significant socioeconomic gaps between both grading schemes. Results show all students are typically given worse results in exams than by their teachers, and low-income students tend to have a smaller gap between these two types of assessments.


David Vieira Marques da Costa. "A new measure of Ability Peer Effects: National Exams score vs. School GPA, evidence from Portugal".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Maria do Carmo Seabra, Luís Catela Nunes

We study ability peer effects at the class-level for 9th grade students in Portuguese state-owned schools. We resort to school-by-year and school-by-year-by-teacher fixed effects to lessen identification threats stemming from unobserved sorting of students to peer groups. We measure students and peer ability with two alternative forms of achievement: teacher assessment along a broader set of subjects and grades and scores in 6th grade external exams. Our findings suggest positive peer effects when using lagged National Exams and negative peer effects when measured using lagged teacher assessment of students. We discuss our results and provide suggestions for future research.

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Diogo Henrique Nogueira Rebelo. "Factors that influence students’ secondary enrolment decisions in Portugal".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Maria do Carmo Seabra, Luís Catela Nunes

This work project examines the relation between a measure of academic ability and student’s decision regarding track and field of studies to follow, when entering high school. The scores obtained in the 9th grade national exams seem to be the greatest predictors of enrolment decisions. While the Portuguese exam score has greater impact in choosing between a vocational program and an academic one, the Mathematics exam score has greater impact on the probabilities of choosing each of the available academic tracks. Besides academic ability, social economic indicators, predominantly parental education are noteworthy predictors for enrolment decisions in secondary school. This effect however is heterogeneous for different parental education levels in predicting track taking probabilities.


Miguel Estevinho Nunes. "Regional Disparities in Socioeconomic Based Achievement Gaps".

Advisors: Luís Catela Nunes, Pedro Freitas

We use administrative data on education and the labour market to map the distribution of socioeconomic-based achievement gaps in mainland Portugal. First, we evaluate the students’ probability of achieving a good score on the standardized national exams conditional on where they live and on their socioeconomic background, measured by a socioeconomic index. Second, we describe the spatial patterns of the observed SE-achievement gaps. Third, we explore factors associated with the regional disparities in SE-based achievement gaps. We conclude that municipalities with higher income inequality, deeper school segregation, higher crime and abstention rates and better labour market indicators have, on average, higher SE-based achievement gaps.

Jaqueline Ferreira Assunção. "Monetary Grants as Public Policy in Education: Evidence from “Escola Nota Dez” Prize in Brazil".

Advisor: Ana Balcão Reis

We apply a regression discontinuity design to estimate the causal effects of offering monetary grants conditional on the school’s achievements. We use the evidence of 5th-grade elementary schools that received extra resources for the 2013 edition of the Escola Nota Dez prize, program implemented in the Brazilian state Ceará that yearly gives monetary grants to the best schools and worst public schools according to their rank in a standardized index. Although the atmosphere of competition and motivation created by the prize may impact positively the whole Ceará’s school network, as demonstrated by previous papers, our results indicate that the extra money offered as award and support is not effective to improve schools’ proficiencies in state and national evaluations when compared to other schools in Ceará.


Jefferson Marques Vianna. "Role Model Effect in a Harsh Environment: Science Olympiads in Northeast Brazil".

Advisor: Ana Balcão Reis

The present work aims to understand the impact of an award at OBMEP (Brazilian Mathematics Olympiad of Public Schools), on school math scores in a harsh environment. For this purpose, it is used the Panel Model with Fixed Effects, applied to public schools in Ceará, State in the Brazilian Northeast. In total, 1,882 public schools were followed between 2009 and 2017, observing specifically K9 students. While the previous literature demonstrates the impact of schools participating in OBMEP and how awards have an impact on the award winners, this study demonstrates how the effects spill over towards their peers. In short, all awards have positive and statistically relevant impacts, but a gold medal is, on average, 3.2 times more impactful than the others.

Mariana Esteves Bêa. "Measuring School Segregation: Evidence from Lisbon".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

The paper estimates and analyses public primary school segregation in Lisbon between 2006 and 2016, along three dimensions: subsidized lunch, immigrant status, and parents' education. Also, using 2011 census data, measures of residential segregation by education, unemployed status, and immigrant inhabitant status were obtained for the capital. Throughout this paper, I use the index of dissimilarity, the most popular unevenness index in the literature to compute measures of school segregation that I compare with residential segregation. The area analysed is the entire council of Lisbon, composed of 24 parishes containing a total of 24 public primary schools. The main findings include that segregation across schools has been decreasing over time for the dimensions of subsidized lunch and parents' education and that it has increased for immigrant status. Furthermore, for the year of 2011, school segregation is higher than residential segregation.


Diogo José Branco Agostinho. "Sports and its impact on academic achievement".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

The objective of this work project is to study the relationship between the regular practice of sports in higher education and students’ success. More and more, the practice of sports is seen as a vehicle to enhance the quality of life. However, it may be the case that the time spent practicing sports harms the academic life of a student, particularly on highly demanding degrees. In order to analyse this issue, a survey was done to Nova School of Business & Economics students and three regression models were estimated, to study what influences three variables: GPA, the number of semesters that a student takes to finish its undergraduate program and the GPA for students who already finished its undergraduate program.


Rafaela Martinho Henriques. "Vocational education – course taking choice and impact on dropout and college enrolment rates".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXVII Meeting of the Economics of Education Association ( and Forum Estatístico – DGEEC

This work investigates which factors underlie the students’ decision on which secondary track program to enrol in and its impact on dropout and college enrolment rates. According to the results, whereas vocational education appears to be successful in engaging students “at risk”, it appears to prejudice the academic success of the high achievers. Apart from past school performance, previous retentions, college expectations, and parents’ education seem to be good predictors of both educational decisions and outcomes.


Miguel Filipe Ruivo Madeira. "Does the age of entry in primary school affect student’s achievement?".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXVII Meeting of the Economics of Education Association ( and Forum Estatístico – DGEEC

The school starting age is one of the factors that influence students’ educational attainment. Using a large dataset containing information of students from public schools in Portugal, it was possible to establish a positive relation between the entry age and educational outcomes, such as retentions and exam grades. However, deferring a child’s entry by one year does not seem to provide large benefits for students. This paper complements the analysis by understanding the main characteristics that lead to a child’s deferment and reinforces the idea that educational policy is a complex issue for Governments to deal with.


João Brás de Oliveira. "Effectiveness of private schools versus public schools – a comparative analysis in Portugal".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXVII Meeting of the Economics of Education Association (

This study compares the effects of private versus public school administration on student performance in Portugal, which benefits from the existence of publicly funded private schools (CA schools). Our findings suggest a positive, but modest, increase in the probability of completing Lower Secondary School with zero retentions, for those students attending a publicly funded private class from 7th grade to 9th grade when compared to those attending a strictly public class. Additionally, the results suggest that attending a publicly funded private class also increases national exam scores by 1 point in Portuguese subject and 3 points in Mathematics, when compared to strictly public class (0-100 scale). With regard to private classes, in both models, the results move in the same direction as publicly funded private classes, although with higher magnitudes, when compared to public classes.


Inês Madureira da Fonseca Pedroso. "The impact of teacher’s qualification on students’ achievement – evidence from Portugal".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXVII Meeting of the Economics of Education Association (

This work project uses an administrative dataset from Portugal to study the relationship between teacher characteristics and student achievement in Mathematics. In the first step, student achievement is measured by scores in the 6th-grade national exams to estimate teacher value-added, the measure of teacher quality. Secondly, after having an estimate of the teacher quality, it was determined what type of characteristics can explain differences in teacher efficiency. It was found that teachers differ in terms of quality and that it matters for student achievement. However, these differences in quality are mostly explained by unmeasured characteristics. Taken together, observable credentials such as teacher’s experience, GPA, and female gender all have positive effects on teacher quality. When considering the type of degree-granting institution, the effects on teacher effectiveness are different depending on the field of study.

Rodrigo Lopes Ferreira. "The determinants of teacher effectiveness in Portuguese schools".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXVII Meeting of the Economics of Education Association

This work project analyses the impact of teachers on student exam scores and the determinants of teacher effectiveness in Portuguese schools. The main findings are that teachers are an important component of student achievement and that unobservable characteristics explain most differences in teacher quality. Having a master’s degree has no impact on teacher quality. Unlike their female counterparts, male teachers exhibit losses in their teaching effectiveness over the years. It was also found positive and significant peer effects between teachers.


Ângelo Miguel Calmeiro Ramos. "The impact of choosing a vocational track on academic performance and college enrolment in Portugal".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

This work assesses how the students’ high school track choice affects grade progression and drop-out rate throughout high school as well as college enrolment. It uses students’ characteristics, social background, past educational results, and the students’ college entrance expectation in the 10th grade as control and matching variables. Follows a cohort of students in the 10th grade in school year 2010/2011 up until 2014/2015. The main findings are that controlling for college enrolment expectation, choosing a vocational track increases the probability of transition and high school completion, but also the dropout rate.


Diogo Maria Silva e Sousa. "Are there different cultures of retention across Portuguese Regions?".

Advisor: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

One of the possible explanations for the high levels of grade retention in Portugal is a prevailing “culture retention” – the set of beliefs embedded in society regarding the benefits and costs of grade retention for pupils – that favours grade retention practice. This paper focuses on checking whether the culture of retention differs across Portuguese regions. This phenomenon can be identified if persistent differences in grade retention rates at the regional level are detected after controlling for grade retention rate determinants. The sample includes all the 4th-grade students enrolled in Portuguese public primary schools between 2007 and 2012. Results suggest that 4 out of 28 NUTS III2 regions have a regional-specific culture of retention.

José Miguel Lourenço Cerdeira. "Predictors of student success: a study of Portuguese Higher Education graduates".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Publication: Cerdeira, J. M., Nunes, L. C., Reis, A. B., and Seabra, C. 2018. “Predictors of student success in Higher Education: Secondary school internal scores versus national exams”. Higher Education Quarterly.

Presented: XXIV Meeting of the Economics of Education Association ( and Fourth Lisbon Research Workshop: Economics, Statistics and Econometrics of Education (

This research analyses the determinants of academic achievement of Bachelor and Integrated Masters students that graduated in 2011/12 in Portugal. It uses individual student data on student’s characteristics, social background, and past educational success to predict deviation from average scores and whether or not they graduated in due time. The main findings are that parent’s education effects are totally factored in basic and secondary education (although affecting Higher Education performance indirectly), and that internal high school scores are better predictors of success at the university level than National Exams. Moreover, the findings show that the level of significance and relevance of factors like working status, social support, and gender, vary with the type of Higher Education (University versus Polytechnic and more demanding versus less demanding degrees).


Ana Rita Coelho de Azevedo. "Stratification and peer effects: An analysis of Lisbon public schools".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXIV Meeting of the Economics of Education Association (

Educational stratification has been a difficult subject to deal with having yet no study shown a quantitative measure of it. Using the idea of distribution comparison, a measure based on parents’ education is built for the primary schools in Lisbon. Upon the confirmation that Lisbon is stratified, it was used the measure of peer effects based on stratification and determined its impact on test scores, concluding that the existence of stratification improves scores of students in schools with more educated parents and decreases scores of students in schools with less-educated parents. Moreover, using fixed effects it was derived the conclusion that the measure of peers’ characteristics helps explain most of the differences among schools.


João Firmino. "The impact of class composition on students’ success in Portuguese public schools: an empirical study".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXVII Meeting of the Economics of Education Association

It was analysed the effects of several class compositional dimensions on individual student achievement. It uses a rich dataset that allows tackling major endogeneity concerns stemming from non-random allocation of students between and within schools. It was found that increasing the percentage of high achievers in a 6th-grade class has a negative effect on student performance, while in a 9th-grade class, the effect is, in general, non-significant. Students with no past retention do better with an increasing proportion of this same type of classmate. Larger shares of low-income classmates hurt performance in general. Class composition rearrangements are estimated to provide a larger increment to performance than comparable reductions of class size.


Pedro Freitas. "The reasons behind the progression in PISA scores: An education production function approach using semi-parametric techniques".

Advisor: Ana Balcão Reis

Publication: Freitas, P., Nunes, L. C., Balcão Reis, A., Seabra, C., and Ferro, A. 2016. “Correcting for sample problems in PISA and the improvement in Portuguese students’ performance”. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 23(4), 456-472.

Presented: XXIII Meeting of the Economics of Education Association

In December 2013, and for the fifth time since 2000, OECD published the results of the latest PISA survey, providing a view on how the students’ performance has progressed during the last 12 years. Using PISA data, it was followed an education production function, which states that variables related to students, their family, and the school explain the output, measured as the individual student achievement. Exploring the concept of efficiency, it was measured the ability that each student has to transform the given inputs into higher academic outcomes. Using this methodology, two vectors of analysis were established. The first one intends to disentangle the reasons behind the evolution in PISA scores across the years, concluding that the variation in inputs is on the core of the reasons to explain the evolution in PISA results. The second aims to evaluate what are the sources of student’s efficiency. On this topic, it was explored the role of the school inputs, concluding that students with a more favourable socioeconomic background are more indifferent to variables such as class size and school size.


Pedro Luís Marques Correia da Silva. "Success in higher education – A discussion of selection criteria".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: Fourth Lisbon Research Workshop: Economics, Statistics and Econometrics of Education (

This paper analyses the determinants of the success of undergraduate Nova SBE students from 2008 to 2011. It accounts for the question of selection that is likely to occur when we just observe the success of those students who were admitted and enrolled at school. The main result of this empirical analysis is that the high school score appears to be a stronger predictor of the students´ success than the national Math’s exam score. In addition, the evidence also suggests that male students tend to have a better performance in Economics than female students, and displaced management students have more difficulties in terms of their scores. Finally, it does not seem to exist a strong visible difference on the final GPA between students from public and private schools.


Mariana Tavares. "Are basic schools more effective than secondary schools?".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: Fourth Lisbon Research Workshop on Economics, Statistics and Econometrics of Education ( and XXIV Meeting of the Economics of Education Association (

This essay focuses on the effectiveness of Portuguese public schools’ provision of 7th, 8th and 9th grades, using data from the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science for 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2011/12. At least two school types offer these grades: Basic and Secondary. Based on previous findings, a production function is estimated for 9th grade students in the regular academic track, including a variable that indicates the specific school type attended by each student. After concluding that Basic Schools add more value, some explanations are presented as well as recommendations and possible further research.

Dino Miguel Alves. "Determinants of success of Nova SBE’s undergraduate students".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

This Work Project analyses the determinants of academic success of undergraduate students enrolled in 2009/10 at Nova School of Business & Economics, using information about students’ characteristics and skills to predict their future educational success, measured by four different outcomes. The main finding is that internal high school grade is a better predictor of achievement than the score of national mathematics exam. Additionally, gender, age, economic background, and distance between home and Nova SBE seem to be correlated with performance. On the other hand, the estimates suggest that attending a private high school or following the economics track at high school is irrelevant for predicting educational outcomes, after controlling for the internal high school grade and the mathematics national exam score.


Sofia Carina dos Santos Oliveira. "Returns to vocational education in Portugal".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Luís Catela Nunes, Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXVII Meeting of the Economics of Education Association

In a context of increasing investment in vocational education, it is highly relevant to investigate the impact of this type of education on labour market outcomes. Following a panel of individuals with upper secondary attainment born between January 1974 and December 1990, this study assesses the wage returns to vocational education and general education, between 1993 and 2009. Estimates from a random-effects model revealed a wage advantage for workers with vocational education vis-à-vis workers with general education, in the beginning of the career. However, the earnings of the former group grow at a slower rate and are surpassed by the earnings of the latter group at around eight years of experience.​

Marta Maria de Lima Mayer Rosado. "Comparative analysis: Public and private school management systems".

Advisors: Maria do Carmo Seabra

Presented: XXIV Meeting of the Economics of Education Association (

The Portuguese educational system has counted, for many years, with the co-existence of both public and private schools. In fact, the country’s growth and development led, in the past, to an increased demand for free of charge public education that could only be matched through the creation of “publicly-subsidized and privately owned and managed schools”. Still, the demographic evolution of Portugal recently generated a decrease on demand for public educational services. This situation has raised doubts about the true contribution of this type of school to the public education system. This paper aims at answering this question by isolating the impact of different property and management schemes on the performance of students, resorting to cross-section data on 9th-grade students from 2010. The results corroborate the well-known result on the relevance of the family socio-economic background for students’ performance but do also sustain the existence of a significant positive impact of private ownership and management schemes on the overall performance of students. These results suggest that there might be gains associated with the expansion of such schemes within the public education system.

Rita Ramos Azevedo. "Critical analysis: Portuguese 9th grade exam results and socioeconomic factors".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis, Maria do Carmo Seabra

The typical indicator used to assess school performance is the average test score results. Literature has pointed out the serious weaknesses of this measure as a school performance indicator. The strongest criticism resides in the bias that may exist in socially disadvantaged schools. In fact, this measure does not take into account socioeconomic and other variables which are relevant in determining student’s school performance and out of the scope of school control. Using school-level cross-section data from Portugal for 9th-grade exams between 2005 and 2010, it was explicitly calculated the impact of these variables on school achievement as regards exams. It was found an important causal effect between socioeconomic variables and school achievement. This implies that average test scores are an intrinsically flawed instrument. For this reason, this study proposes an adjusted measure of school performance. This measure consists of a ratio between current average school scores and expected average school scores, taking into account the reference variables by municipality.

Completed PhD Dissertations

Pedro Freitas. "Essays in Student Assessment and Teacher Quality".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis e Luís Catela Nunes

This dissertation is constituted by four independent articles on economics of education. The first and second chapters focus on the evolution of the Portuguese students' performance in PISA tests and on the potential sampling issues regarding the representativeness of the Portuguese private schools. In the third chapter we exploit a policy reform in the Portuguese system, measuring how teachers change their grading behaviour when stricter external accountability mechanisms ar put in place. Finally, in the fourth chapter, we propose a new methodology to measure Teacher Value-Added when standardized tests are not available on a yearly basis and a high level of teacher turnover is observed.


Afonso Câmara Leme. "Essays in Economics of Education".

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis and Luís Catela Nunes

This dissertation consists of three independent essays in economics of education. In the first chapter, through a cross-county analysis, we study the effect of tracking students in specialization areas versus keeping the system more general in academic upper-secondary school, on students’ achievement and inequality. The second chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of the Danish school well-being indicators and their determinants. Finally, in the third chapter, I study how a large increase in the compulsory schooling leaving age from 15 to 18 years old in Portugal can contribute to reducing early school leaving and change students’ educational paths.

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Madhuri Argawal. "Essays in Economics of Education".

Nova SBE and Bielefeld University PhD in Economics under a joint doctorate fellowship.

Advisors: Ana Balcão Reis e Luís Catela Nunes

The main objective of this dissertation is to understand how education policies affect quality and inequality in education. In Chapter 1, “Look no farther: The impact of local contract teachers on student outcomes”, my co-author and I explore the role of school quality more specifically teachers in enhancing human capital. The increasing number of contract teachers in developing countries has led to concerns about the effect of their employment on teacher quality. Contract teachers are in general less trained and qualified. However, they are more likely to be hired from the local community, which can positively affect student outcomes by reducing social distance or through better monitoring. This paper provides evidence on the difference in the impact of contract and regular civil service teachers with a special focus on the effect of being a local teacher or native of the village. Using a value-added estimation method, based on data from a unique survey in India, we find no statistically significant difference in the performance of contract and regular teachers for both grades 4 and 6. However, within contract teachers, we observe that local teachers have a significant and positive impact (0.24 standard deviation) on student learning for grade 6. The next chapter, “Retain or not to retain: Automatic promotion and student outcomes”, deals with the issue of equity and efficiency in education. How does increase in access to education affect education quality? Does the effect vary by socio-economic background? A large scale education reform in India introduced automatic promotion in all elementary grades. This paper estimates the impact of automatic promotion on education outcomes. I use quasi exogenous variation in exposure to the policy due to initial differences in repetition rates across districts. I find that automatic promotion reduces Introduction 3 dropout rates by 0.1 percentage points for children in the lower secondary age. However, the policy had a negative effect on learning outcomes. The probability that a primary age student could solve a basic reading and arithmetic task falls by 0.3 and 0.8 percentage points respectively. The negative effect was larger for children with a poor socio-economic background. I explore probable mechanisms for the decline in learning levels. I find that districts with congested government schools suffered more due to the policy. In Chapter 3, “Indian matchmaking: Impact of large scale education program”, my co-authors and I look into marriage market returns to education. Marriage markets are important determinants of human capital investment and fertility outcomes. Marriage market outcomes, especially the age of marriage influence economic opportunities for women. In this paper, we study the impact of the large-scale education program in India, District Primary Education Program (DPEP), on female education and the marriage market. The program provides a regression discontinuity set-up to estimate the causal impact. The districts below the national average of female literacy were selected in the program. Preliminary results show that female education increases by 1.3 years. The program further reduces the age of marriage and increases partner’s education.

Ongoing PhD Dissertations

  • Catarina Angelo
  • João Firmino
  • Ricardo Colaço
Master's Courses

Master's Courses

Economics of Education (Master's course at Nova SBE)

Instructors: Ana Balcão Reis and Carmo Seabra

Course Mission: This course applies economic concepts and tools to analyze current issues of Education Policy. In particular, this course combines economic theory with econometrics and institutional literature to address education problems. Besides the theoretical analysis, particular attention is devoted to policy issues. The emphasis of the course is placed on primary and secondary education levels.

PhD Program

PhD Program

Nova School of Business & Economics offers a PhD program in Economics, which provides a solid theoretical and methodological basis. It prepares PhD candidates to develop independent research in several areas of expertise, one of which is Economics of Education. The program is held in a vibrant research environment and promotes the inclusion of candidates in ongoing research projects. This is underpinned by the belief that the quality of doctoral training and research are intimately connected.