Claudia Persico

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Dr. Claudia Persico

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Dr. Claudia Persico


Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis (ELPA)

270L Education Building  binoculars icon
1000 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706
Office: 608/265-6643

cpersico@wisc.edu
Website

Personal Biography

Claudia Persico is an Assistant Professor of the Economics of Education in ELPA and a faculty affiliate of the La Follette School of Public Affairs. She is also affiliated with the Center for Demography and Ecology and the Institute for Research on Poverty. As an economics-oriented policy scholar, she studies the intersection of inequality, education policy and early childhood health.



 

 

Scheduled Teaching

  • Spring 2017 - Advanced Research Methods in Educational Administration
    Course Number: 825, Course Level: Doctoral
     
  • Spring 2017 - Economics of Education
    Course Number: 940, Course Level: Graduate
     

Publications

  • Persico, C., Figlio, D., & Roth, J. (2016). Inequality Before Birth: The Developmental Consequences of Environmental Toxicants. National Bureau of Economic Research.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: Billions of tons of hazardous wastes have been produced in the United States in the last 60 years which have been dispersed into the air, into water, and on and under the ground. Using new population-level data that follows cohorts of children born in the state of Florida between 1994 and 2002, this paper examines the short and long-term effects of prenatal exposure to environmental toxicants on children living within two miles of a Superfund site, toxic waste sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as being particularly severe. We compare siblings living within two miles from a Superfund site at birth where at least one sibling was conceived before or during cleanup of the site, and the other(s) was conceived after the site cleanup was completed using a family fixed effects model. Children conceived to mothers living within 2 miles of a Superfund site before it was cleaned are 7.4 percentage points more likely to repeat a grade, have 0.06 of a standard deviation lower test scores, and are 6.6 percentage points more likely to be suspended from school than their siblings who were conceived after the site was cleaned. Children conceived to mothers living within one mile of a Superfund site before it was cleaned are 10 percentage points more likely to be diagnosed with a cognitive disability than their later born siblings as well. These results tend to be larger and are more statistically significant than the estimated effects of proximity to a Superfund site on birth outcomes. This study suggests that the cleanup of severe toxic waste sites has significant positive effects on a variety of long-term cognitive and developmental outcomes for children.
  • Jackson, C.K., Johnson, R.C., & Persico, C. (2015). The Effects of School Spending on Educational and Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms*. pp. qjv036.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: Since the Coleman report, many have questioned whether public school spending affects student outcomes. The school finance reforms that began in the early 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s caused dramatic changes to the structure of K–12 education spending in the US. To study the effect of these school-finance-reform-induced changes in public school spending on long-run adult outcomes, we link school spending and school finance reform data to detailed, nationally-representative data on children born between 1955 and 1985 and followed through 2011. We use the timing of the passage of court-mandated reforms, and their associated type of funding formula change, as exogenous shifters of school spending and we compare the adult outcomes of cohorts that were differentially exposed to school finance reforms, depending on place and year of birth. Event-study and instrumental variable models reveal that a 10 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all twelve years of public school leads to 0.31 more completed years of education, about 7 percent higher wages, and a 3.2 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; effects are much more pronounced for children from low-income families. Exogenous spending increases were associated with notable improvements in measured school inputs, including reductions in student-to-teacher ratios, increases in teacher salaries, and longer school years.
  • Jackson, C.K., Johnson, R., & Persico, C. (2014). The Effect of School Finance Reforms on the Distribution of Spending, Academic Achievement, and Adult Outcomes. National Bureau of Economic Research.
    Online Publication/Abstract
    Abstract: The school finance reforms (SFRs) that began in the early 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s caused some of the most dramatic changes in the structure of K-12 education spending in U.S. history. We analyze the effects of these reforms on the level and distribution of school district spending, as well as their effects on subsequent educational and economic outcomes. In Part One, using a newly compiled database of school finance reforms and a recently available long panel of annual school district data on per-pupil spending that spans 1967-2010, we present an event-study analysis of the effects of different types of school finance reforms on per-pupil spending in low- and high-income school districts. We find that SFRs have been instrumental in equalizing school spending between low- and high-income districts and many reforms do so by increasing spending for poor districts. While all reforms reduce spending inequality, there are important differences by reform type: adequacy-based court-ordered reforms increase overall school spending, while equity-based court-ordered reforms reduce the variance of spending with little effect on overall levels; reforms that entail high tax prices (the amount of taxes a district must raise to increase spending by one dollar) reduce long-run spending for all districts, and those that entail low tax prices lead to increased spending growth, particularly for low-income districts. In Part Two, we link the spending and reform data to detailed, nationally-representative data on children born between 1955 and 1985 and followed through 2011 (the Panel Study of Income Dynamics) to study the effect of the reform-induced changes in school spending on long-run adult outcomes. These birth cohorts straddle the period in which most of the major school finance reform litigation accelerated, and thus the cohorts were differentially exposed, depending on place and year of birth. We use the timing of the passage of court-mandated reforms as an exogenous shifter of school spending across cohorts within the same district. Event-study and instrumental variable models reveal that a 20 percent increase in per-pupil spending each year for all 12 years of public school for children from poor families leads to about 0.9 more completed years of education, 25 percent higher earnings, and a 20 percentage-point reduction in the annual incidence of adult poverty; we find no effects for children from non-poor families. The magnitudes of these effects are sufficiently large to eliminate between two-thirds and all of the gaps in these adult outcomes between those raised in poor families and those raised in non-poor families. We present several pieces of evidence to support a causal interpretation of the estimates.

Memberships

  • Association for Education Finance and Policy (AEFP)
    Member Since: 2013
  • Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM)
    Member Since: 2013
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