PhD defence of Roel van Elk on Friday 2 May 2014

On Friday 2 May 2014 Roel van Elk will defend his PhD thesis entitled 'Evaluating the Effects of Educational Policies’. Supervisor is Professor Dinand Webbink (Erasmus School of Economics). Other members of the Doctoral Committee are Professor Rober Dur (Erasmus School of Economics), Professor Lex Borghans (School of Business and Economics - Maastricht University) and Professor Pierre Koning (Faculty of Economics and Business Adminsitration - VU University Amsterdam)

Time and location

The PhD defence will take place in the Senate Hall of Erasmus University Rotterdam (Campus Woudestein) and will start at 13.30 hrs.

Abstract 'Evaluating the Effects of Educational Policies'

This thesis presents four empirical evaluations of educational policies in the Netherlands. In each of the studies specific attention is paid to the identification of the causal effect of the policy by making use of design-based research methods. 

The first study investigates the effect of the timing of tracking on higher education completion. We exploit variation in the age of tracking within the Dutch education system and find evidence that early tracking negatively affects the probability of higher education completion.

The second study investigates the effects of a new type of financial incentive targeted at regional education authorities. The introduction of the policy in 14 out of 39 regions and the use of the specific selection rule for the participating regions allow us to estimate local difference-in-differences models. We find no effect of the financial incentive scheme on school dropout.

The third study evaluates the effects of an intensive program for youths-at-risk. We exploit variation in assignment to the program induced by capacity restrictions of the program sites. We find that assignment to the program increased criminal activity, especially among the subpopulation of youths who had been suspected of a crime before the start of the program. The program did not succeed in increasing enrolment in education or employment.

The fourth study estimates the effects of a comprehensive school reform program for failing schools in Amsterdam. Difference-in-differences estimates show substantial negative effects on test scores for pupils in their final year of primary school.

More information

For more information about this ceremony, please contact Ronald de Groot, Communication Officer of the Erasmus School of Economics phone +31 10 408 1762 or by e-mail:

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