No. 12/2013: Causal effects of mathematics


This paper exploits that students at age 16 in Norway are randomly selected into one compulsory exit exam in either mathematics or languages. A few days before the actual exam day, the students are notified about exam subject. The students have an intensive preparation period, and preparation in mathematics relative to languages is found to decrease dropout from high school, increase enrollment in higher education, and increase enrollment in natural science and technology education programs. The causal effects are strongest for males, and depend on prior skills in mathematics. We explore several mechanisms that might contribute to these findings.
Keywords: Mathematical training; Intervention; External exit examination; High school graduation; Higher education
JEL Classification: I21; J24