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The Effects of Attendance on Academic Performance: Panel Data Evidence for Introductory Microeconomics

By Luca Stanca


This paper presents new evidence on the effects of attendance on academic performance. We exploit a large panel data set for Introductory Microeconomics students to explicitly take into account the effect of unobservable factors correlated with attendance, such as ability, effort and motivation. We find that neither proxy variables nor instrumental variables provide a viable solution to the omitted variable bias. Panel estimators indicate that attendance has a positive and significant impact on performance. Lecture and classes have a similar effect on performance individually, although their impact cannot be identified separately. Overall, the results indicate that, after controlling for unobservable student characteristics, teaching has an important independent effect on learning.

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