The economics of class size

D. W. Schanzenbach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Class-size reduction is a politically popular but relatively expensive education reform. Understanding the causal relationship between class size and student achievement is critical for determining whether class-size reduction can be recommended as a policy to improve student outcomes. We begin with a review of the theory of why class size might matter, followed by a discussion of the empirical strategies for identifying the causal impact of class size on student achievement. Next, the empirical literature on class-size reduction is reviewed, focusing on studies using experimental and quasi-experimental techniques because these rely on the most credible strategies for identifying the true causal relationship between class size and student achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Economics of Education
Subtitle of host publicationA Comprehensive Overview
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780081026458
ISBN (Print)9780128153918
StatePublished - Jan 20 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Checks for randomization
  • Empirical approaches
  • Experimental research
  • Nonexperimental research
  • Policy-induced variation
  • Quasi-experimental research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)


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