Working Paper No. 955 | May 2020
Class Size, Cognitive Abilities, Bullying, and Violent Behavior
Evidence from West Bank Schools
This study uses rich administrative and survey data to investigate the effects of class size on students’ cognitive tests as well as bullying and violent behavior. I use the maximum class size rule to create a regression discontinuity (RD) relation between cohort enrollment size and class size in the public and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school system in the West Bank. In addition, I provide evidence that there is no violation of the RD assumptions resulting from discontinuities in the relationship between enrollment and students’ household background at cutoff points induced by a maximum class size rule. The main findings suggest that class size has no direct impact on students’ cognitive skills except for those in grade six. However, class size reduction improves the quality of life for children by mitigating the bullying and violent behavior among pupils that may negatively affect their achievements. Finally, I point to peer relations and mental health problems as a potential mechanism through which class size affects children’s self-reported bullying–victim instances and violent behavior.