The effect of school closures on standardized test scores: Evidence from Australia

Authors: Christian Gillitzer and Nalini Prasad

We estimate the causal effect of pandemic school closures on standardized test scores in Australia using variation in the length of school closures across states. States independently implemented school closures as part of Australia’s successful COVID elimination strategy. School closures in 2020-21 ranged from 4 to 112 school days. We measure achievement using student level panel test score data from a common compulsory standardized test with high participation rates. We find no evidence of large declines in test scores, including for low socioeconomic groups. The variation in test scores we observe post school closures was like that observed in previous years.

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Family size and domestic violence in a high-fertility society

Author: Dyah Pritadrajati

Does family size affect the prevalence of domestic violence? Using nationally-representative survey data from Samoa, which has among the world’s highest fertility rates, I extend the classic work on child quantity-quality trade-offs to also consider domestic violence. Identification is based on instrumental variable (IV) strategies exploiting three distinct and plausibly exogenous drivers of additional fertility: (1) same-sex sibling pairs in families with two or more children, (2) multiple births (twin), and (3) a female firstborn. I find evidence of a direct causal link between family size and an increased prevalence of intimate partner violence by, on average, 5 percentage points, equivalent to a 13 percent increase. This significant effect is largely driven by physical or sexual abuse often associated with serious victim injuries. The IV estimates also suggest that larger families tend to have attitudes that condone violent behaviour. The normalisation of violent behaviour in larger families may be linked to a lack of resources available to effectively address and resolve conflicts, ultimately contributing to an increased likelihood of violent incidents. These findings highlight the need for greater awareness of the potential victimisation risks for larger families and the importance of integrated family planning and domestic violence prevention efforts.

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