Research / BFI Working PaperAug 29, 2023

Disentangling Motivation and Study Productivity as Drivers of Adolescent Human Capital Formation: Evidence from a Field Experiment and Structural Analysis

Christopher S. Cotton, Brent R. Hickman, John List, Joseph Price, Sutanuka Roy

We conduct a field experiment across three diverse school districts to structurally identify student motivation and estimate productivity parameters in a model of adolescent human capital development. By observing exogenous variation in study time, homework task completion, and test results, we can identify individual and demographic variations in motivation and study time effectiveness. Struggling students typically do not lack motivation but rather have difficulties converting study time into completed assignments and proficiency improvements. The study also shows that attending a higher-performing school is associated with both higher productivity and higher motivation relative to peers with similar observables in lower-performing schools. Counterfactual analyses provide a suite of policies to reduce racial performance gaps and suggest that school quality differences account for a substantial share of the racial differences in test scores.

More Research From These Scholars

BFI Working Paper Sep 30, 2020

Reservation Wages and Workers’ Valuation of Job Flexibility: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

Kuan-Ming Chen, Claire Ding, John List, Magne Mogstad
Topics:  Employment & Wages
BFI Working Paper May 20, 2019

The Science of Using Science: Towards an Understanding of the Threats to Scaling Experiments

John List, Dana Suskind, Omar Al-Ubaydli
Topics:  Uncategorized
BFI Working Paper Dec 28, 2020

The Social Side of Early Human Capital Formation: Using a Field Experiment to Estimate the Causal Impact of Neighborhoods

John List, Fatemeh Momeni, Yves Zenou
Topics:  Early Childhood Education