IZA Young Labor Economist Award 2012

Mark Hoekstra | Scott Carrell | Klaus F. Zimmermann
At the traditional IZA reception during the Annual Meeting of the Allied Social Science Associations (ASSA), held in San Diego in January 2013, IZA Director Klaus F. Zimmermann presented the 2012 IZA Young Labor Economist Award to Scott Carrell (UC Davis) and Mark Hoekstra (Texas A&M) for their article "Externalities in the Classroom: How Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Affect Everyone's Kids" (American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2010).

The award-winning paper studies whether children from troubled families generate negative spillovers on the educational achievements of their peers. The authors constructed a unique dataset in which children’s school records are matched to domestic violence cases from court records in a Florida county. They find that about 5% of the children in their sample are exposed to domestic violence. This implies that about 70% of the classes have at least one kid that has been exposed to domestic violence. The academic records show that children from troubled homes not only have lower test scores themselves, but they also decrease the performance of their peers. There is a statistically significant reduction in math and reading test scores and a significant increase in misbehavior at school, relative to classes without troubled children. Troubled boys and children from low-income families are the main drivers of these negative spillovers: Adding one more troubled boy to a classroom of 20 students increases the number of disciplinary infractions committed by other boys by 40 percent. These findings have important implications for education policy. They provide clean and strong evidence of the "bad apple" effect. The paper also shows that addressing family violence has a double dividend – while improving the life of the most troubled students, it can also positively affect these children’s peers.