Opportunities, Costs and Benefits: Rethinking the Education Production Function
Kenneth Shores

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



Stanford University

Primary Discipline

This dissertation incorporates both traditional and non-traditional approaches to the specification and estimation of the education production function. I pursue three related questions: first, I provide new empirical evidence on the effects of spending on educational outcomes. Applying factor methods to a differences-in-differences estimator, I show that cross-sectional dependence is an important source of omitted variable bias in this differences-in-differences application and that school resources marginally improve graduation rates. Second, I use normative philosophical methods to consider the conditions under which a society should invest more in education. Building on John Rawls’ conception of justice, I ask whether the development of academic achievement for the purposes of earnings should command more resources than the development of academic achievement for other ends. Finally, I develop and implement methods to elicit information about how much value individuals accord different types of academic skills. These valuations can then be used to link academic test scores to welfare gains. I then show that this “welfare-adjusted” scale score leads to radically different inferences about achievement gaps and trends.
About Kenneth Shores
Ken is a doctoral candidate in the Administration and Policy Analysis program at Stanford University. He received his B.S. in Economics from the University of Rhode Island in 2003. Prior to coming to Stanford, he was a teacher for five years in Pueblo Pintado, a small Navajo community in the northwest region of New Mexico. He also taught for two years in Quito, Ecuador. Ken studies patterns and trends of educational inequality and the political tools at our disposal for addressing these inequalities.

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