Publications

Forthcoming
Cicala S, Roland G. Fryer J, Spenkuch JL. Self-Selection and Comparative Advantage in Social Interactions. Journal of the European Economic Association. Forthcoming.Abstract

We propose a theory of social interactions based on self-selection and comparative advantage. In our model, students choose peer groups based on their comparative advantage within a social environment. The effect of moving a student into a different environment with higher-achieving peers depends on where in the ability distribution she falls and the shadow prices that clear the social market. We show that the model’s key prediction—an individual’s ordinal rank predicts her behavior and test scores—is borne out in one randomized controlled trial in Kenya as well as administrative data from the U.S. To test whether our selection mechanism can explain the effect of rank on outcomes, we conduct an experiment with nearly 600 public school students in Houston. The experimental results suggest that social interactions are mediated by self-selection based on comparative advantage.

ComparativeAdvantage.pdf ComparativeAdvantage_appendix.pdf
Fryer R, Harms P. Two-Armed Restless Bandits with Imperfect Information: Stochastic Control and Indexability. Mathematics of Operations Research. Forthcoming.Abstract

 

We present a two-armed bandit model of decision making under uncertainty where the expected return to investing in the "risky arm" increases when choosing that arm and decreases when choosing the "safe" arm. These dynamics are natural in applications such as human capital development, job search, and occupational choice. Using new insights from stochastic control, along with a monotonicity condition on the payo dynamics, we show that optimal strategies in our model are stopping rules that can be characterized by an index which formally coincides with Gittins' index. Our result implies the indexability of a new class of restless bandit models

 

bandits.pdf
2017
Roland G. Fryer J. The Production of Human Capital in Developed Countries: Evidence from 196 Randomized Field Experiments. In: Handbook of Field Experiments. Vol. 2. Amsterdam: North-Holland ; 2017. pp. 95-322.Abstract

Randomized field experiments designed to better understand the production of human capital have increased exponentially over the past several decades. This chapter summarizes what we have learned about various partial derivatives of the human capital production function, what important partial derivatives are left to be estimated, and what – together – our collective efforts have taught us about how to produce human capital in developed countries. The chapter concludes with a back of the envelope simulation of how much of the racial wage gap in America might be accounted for if human capital policy focused on best practices gleaned from randomized field experiments.

handbook_fryer_03.25.2016.pdf
2016
Roland G. Fryer J. Information, Non-Financial Incentives, and Student Achievement: Evidence from a Text Messaging Experiment. Journal of Public Economics. 2016;144 :109-121.Abstract

This paper describes a field experiment in Oklahoma City Public Schools in which students were provided with free cellular phones and daily information about the link between human capital and future outcomes via text message in one treatment and minutes to talk and text as an incentive in a second treatment. Students’ reported beliefs about the relationship between education and outcomes were influenced by the information treatment.  However, there were no measurable changes in student effort, attendance, suspensions, or state test scores, though there is evidence that scores on college entrance exams four years later increased. The patterns in the data appear most consistent with a model in which students have present-bias or lack knowledge of the educational production function, though other explanations are possible.

textmessaging2016_final.pdf appendix_txtmessaging_final.pdf
2015
Roland G Fryer J, Dobbie W. The Impact of Voluntary Youth Service on Future Outcomes: Evidence from Teach For America. B. E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy, Advances Tier. 2015;15 (3) :1031. tfa_03.19.2015.pdf tfa_onlineappendix_03.11.2015.pdf
Roland G Fryer J, Dobbie W. The Medium-Term Impacts of High-Achieving Charter Schools. Journal of Political Economy. 2015;123 (5) :985-1037. dobbie_fryer_hcz_01062015_1.pdf webappendix_dobbie_fryer_hcz_ii_1.pdf
2014
Roland G. Fryer J. Injecting Charter School Best Practices into Traditional PublicSchools:Evidence From Field Experiments*. Quarterly Journal of Economics (2014). 2014;129 (3) :1355-1407. 2014_injecting_charter_school_best_practices_into_traditional_public_schools.pdf 2014_appendix_injecting_charter_school_best_practices.pdf
Fryer RG, Curto VE. The Potential of Urban Boarding Schools for the Poor: Evidence from SEED. Journal of Labor Economics (2014). 2014;32 (1) :65-93.Abstract

The SEED schools, which combine a “No Excuses” charter model with a five-day-a-week boarding program, are America’s only urban public boarding schools for the poor. We provide the first causal estimate of the impact of attending SEED schools on academic achievement, with the goal of understanding whether changing both a student’s social and educational en- vironment through boarding is an effective strategy to increase achievement among the poor. Using admission lotteries, we show that attending a SEED school increases achievement by 0.211 standard deviations in reading and 0.229 standard deviations in math, per year of attendance. We argue that the large impacts on reading are consistent with dialectical theories of language development.

PDF
Dobbie W, Roland G. Fryer J. The Impact of Attending a School with High-Achieving Peers: Evidence from New York City Exam Schools. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (July 2014). 2014;6 (3) :58-75. PDF_07_2013.pdf webappendix_07_2013
2013
Fryer R, Katz L. Achieving Escape Velocity: Neighborhood and School Interventions to Reduce Persistent Inequality. American Economic Review (Papers and Proceedings) . 2013;103 (3) :232-237. fryerkatz_manuscript_v2.pdf Appendix
Fryer R, Loury G. Valuing Diversity. Journal of Political Economy. 2013;121 (4) :747-774. Valuing Diversity
Roland G. Fryer J, Pager D, Spenkuch JL. Racial Disparities in Job Finding and Offered Wages. Journal of Law and Economics. 2013;56 (August) :633-689. PDF
Fryer R, Dobbie W. Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. 2013;5 (4) :28-60. Getting Beneath the Veil of Effective Schools: Evidence from New York City Appendix
Fryer R, Levitt S. Testing for Racial Differences in the Mental Ability of Young Children. American Economic Review . 2013;103 (2) :981-1005. PDF
Fryer RG, Heaton PS, Levitt SD, Murphy KM. Measuring Crack Cocaine and Its Impact. Economic Inquiry. 2013;51 (3) :1651-1681. PDF Crack Index for Cities Crack Index for States Crack Index adjusted for racial composition for Cities Crack Index adjusted for racial composition for States
Fryer R. Teacher Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from New York City Public Schools. Journal of Labor Economics. 2013;31 (2) :373-427. PDF
2012
Roland G Fryer J. Learning from the Successes and Failures of Charter Schools, in The Hamilton Project. Washington, D.C. ; 2012. Hamilton Project Paper
Fryer R, Levitt S. Hatred and Profits: Under the Hood of the Ku Klux Klan. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 2012;127 (4) :1883-1925. PDF
Fryer R, Kahn L, Levitt S, Spenkuch J. The Plight of Mixed Race Kids. Review of Economics and Statistics. 2012;94 (3) :621-634. plight_of_mixed_race.pdf
2011
Roland G Fryer J, Allan BM. The Powers and Pitfalls of Education Incentives, in The Hamilton Project. Washington, D.C. ; 2011. The Powers and Pitfalls of Education Incentives

Pages