After-School Tutoring, Household Substitution and Student Achievement: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Office of Alumni and External Relations    2019-12-01

After-School Tutoring, Household Substitution and Student Achievement: Theory and Experimental Evidence

Guest:ZHANG Hongliang, Associate Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University

Host:Prof. Zhang Lei

Time:Wednsday, December 11th, 2019, 14:30-16:00

Venue:A303, Antai Building


Worldwide children’s access to after-school learning activities is highly dependent on family backgrounds. Concern over its implications on child development and educational inequality has led to a global rise of public provision of after-school learning support. However little is known about the interaction of publicly-provided after-school activities and family direct investments in children’s learning. This paper contributes to the literature on the effects of public inputs on private household inputs and student achievement in the after-school setting both theoretically and empirically. On the theoretical front, we build a model that integrates public and private inputs to produce student achievement through two competing mechanisms-diminishing returns to aggregate schooling inputs and complementarity between public and private inputs. When diminishing returns dominate complementarity, the model predicts the substitution away of private inputs due to increases in public inputs for all households, although the extent of crowding-out is smaller and therefore the test score gains are larger for children from disadvantaged family backgrounds facing higher cost of private inputs. On the empirical front, we implement a randomized controlled after-school tutoring experiment in rural China where many children are left-behind by both parents and cared by grandparents. During the program, tutees living with parent(s) reported large and significant reductions in the amount of tutoring received at home, whereas the reductions reported by tutees living apart from both parents are much smaller, and sometimes even insignificant. We find that the intervention significantly improved tutees’ math scores in the endline test and the score gains were significantly larger for children living without either parent, although there is no evidence that the intervention increased tutees’ reading scores.


Dr. ZHANG Hongliang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Hong Kong Baptist University. He received his Ph.D. from MIT in 2009. His main research interests are the economics of education, family and demographic economics, and urban economics. He has worked on a variety of topics including the influences of school, peers, and family on student achievement, decision making in the family involving education investment in children, demographics-economic relationship, migration, traffic congestion, and entrepreneurship-development relationship. His papers have been published in journals such as Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Urban Economics, Journal of Comparative Economics, and Economics of Education Review.

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