Economic Considerations and Class Size

Krueger, Alan B. | The Economic Journal, vol. 113, 2003, pp. F34-F63

Policy-makers who support larger class sizes as a cost-savings measure often cite a series of meta-analyses published by Eric Hanushek between 1997 and 2003. Largely relying on econometric methods, Hanushek argued that increasing class size does not negatively impact learning outcomes.

However, this paper by Alan Krueger offers a robust critique of Hanushek’s method and therefore his findings. The essence of Krueger’s critique is that Hanushek’s selection criteria over-emphasizes research with negative and/or statistically insignificant findings. That is, Hanushek gives equal weight to estimates within studies rather than giving the full studies themselves equal weight. As a result, Hanushek understates the positive impacts of reducing class sizes.