The Determinants of Expected Returns on Higher Education in Russia: A Human Capital Theory Perspective
This paper analyses the determinants of national student mobility under the unified system of admission in Russia and evaluates the barriers which still limit educational mobility. It is argued that even with the Unified State Examination (USE) and the decreased transaction costs of applying to universities, student interregional national mobility is directed towards more developed regional educational markets and richer regions, but is still limited due to the financial constraints in the absence of the additional student support. Russia is an interesting case, because it consists of regions with highly variable socio-economic development and it represents local higher education markets with different levels of competition between universities, which may influence the decision to move. USE was intended to mitigate against these differences, and for political reasons under USE such differences are not considered the main barriers of access to higher education. However, this study takes into account the importance of the institutional characteristics of regions in student mobility.
This article examines the relationship between pre-entry coaching (both in terms of money and effort) and the achievement of Russian high school graduates as measured by the results of the Unified State Examination (USE). Using a data set of students from the 16 biggest Russian cities, which includes information on USE results, family background, school characteristics, and patterns on pre-entry coaching, I estimate the factors that determine the final USE results. Characteristics of pre-entry courses (the duration of the program as well as the total fee) are related to higher USE scores, but the size of this association is moderate. Attending individual classes has a significant (but still moderate) relationship with the USE score in Russian, but the duration of a program moderately and positively relates to the USE scores. Other factors, like parental education, family income, student abilities, and the type of school attended are significant predictors of USE results in Russian, Mathematics, and the average USE score.
This paper examines the dynamics of the prevalence of pre-entry coaching and corresponding investment in private tutoring before and after the introduction of the Unified State Exam (the USE). Besides, we estimate the effectiveness of private tutoring in 2012, i. e. a few years after the USE has become a prerequisite for admission to university. Data from the Monitoring of Education Markets and Organizations show that the main types of pre-entry coaching are still in demand despite the unification of admission requirements, although the popularity of paid courses at a particular university has declined, and the prevalence of classes with tutors who are not related to university has risen. Within a few years after the introduction of the USE the level of investment in pre-entry coaching in real terms almost has not changed, however the returns from such an investment (expressed in the USE scores) are positive but moderate.
Institutions affect investment decisions, including investments in human capital. Hence institutions are relevant for the allocation of talent. Good market-supporting institutions attract talent to productive value-creating activities, whereas poor ones raise the appeal of rent-seeking. We propose a theoretical model that predicts that more talented individuals are particularly sensitive in their career choices to the quality of institutions, and test these predictions on a sample of around 95 countries of the world. We find a strong positive association between the quality of institutions and graduation of college and university students in science, and an even stronger negative correlation with graduation in law. Our findings are robust to various specifications of empirical models, including smaller samples of former colonies and transition countries. The quality of human capital makes the distinction between educational choices under strong and weak institutions particularly sharp. We show that the allocation of talent is an important link between institutions and growth.