Richard Murphy

Department of Economics
University of Texas at Austin
2225 Speedway, C3100
Austin, TX 78712
Tel: 512/475-8525

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
NBER Program Affiliations: ED
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow
Institutional Affiliation: University of Texas at Austin

NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2020Class Rank and Long-Run Outcomes
with Jeffrey T. Denning, Felix Weinhardt: w27468
This paper considers an unavoidable feature of the school environment, class rank. What are the long run effects of a student’s ordinal rank in elementary school? Using administrative data from all public school students in Texas, we show that students with a higher third grade academic rank, conditional on achievement and classroom fixed effects, have higher subsequent test scores, are more likely to take AP classes, to graduate from high school, enroll in college, graduate from college, and ultimately have higher earnings 19 years later. The paper concludes by exploring the tradeoff between higher quality schools and higher rank in the presence of these rank-based peer effects.
June 2019Why Unions Survive: Understanding How Unions Overcome The Free-Rider Problem
This paper provides evidence for why individuals join unions instead of free-riding. I model membership as legal insurance. To test the model, I use the incidence of news stories concerning allegations against teachers in the UK as a plausibly exogenous shock to demand for such insurance. I find that, for every five stories occurring in a region, teachers are 2.2 percentage points more likely to be members in the subsequent year. These effects are larger when teachers share characteristics with the news story and can explain 45 percent of the growth in teacher union membership between 1992 and 2010.

Published: Richard Murphy, 2020. "Why Unions Survive: Understanding How Unions Overcome the Free-Rider Problem," Journal of Labor Economics, vol 38(4), pages 1141-1188.

August 2018Top of the Class: The Importance of Ordinal Rank
with Felix Weinhardt: w24958
This paper establishes a new fact about educational production: ordinal academic rank during primary school has long-run impacts that are independent from underlying ability. Using data on the universe of English school students, we exploit naturally occurring differences in achievement distributions across primary school classes to estimate the impact of class rank conditional on relative achievement. We find large effects on test scores, confidence and subject choice during secondary school, where students have a new set of peers and teachers who are unaware of the students’ prior ranking. The effects are especially large for boys, contributing to an observed gender gap in end-of-high school STEM subject choices. Using a basic model of student effort allocation across subjects, we derive...
September 2017The End of Free College in England: Implications for Quality, Enrolments, and Equity
with Judith Scott-Clayton, Gillian Wyness: w23888
Despite increasing financial pressures on higher education systems throughout the world, many governments remain resolutely opposed to the introduction of tuition fees, and some countries and states where tuition fees have been long established are now reconsidering free higher education. This paper examines the consequences of charging tuition fees on university quality, enrolments, and equity. To do so, we study the English higher education system which has, in just two decades, moved from a free college system to one in which tuition fees are among the highest in the world. Our findings suggest that England’s shift has resulted in increased funding per head, rising enrolments, and a narrowing of the participation gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students. In contrast to other sy...

Published: Richard Murphy & Judith Scott-Clayton & Gill Wyness, 2018. "The end of free college in England: Implications for enrolments, equity, and quality," Economics of Education Review, .

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