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Remedial education in a context of growing inequalities: on the impact of the Program for School Guidance in Spain on non-cognitive skills

16th National Competition for Economic Research Grants

Economics of Education

Senior Researcher : María Luisa Hidalgo Hidalgo

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad Pablo de Olavide. Sevilla.


Growing evidence shows that non-cognitive skills are crucial to understand labour market and other outcomes in life. However, little is known about the role of education in improving these abilities, especially for disadvantaged teenagers in developed countries. Moreover, both cognitive and non-cognitive skills differ in their malleability over the life cycle, with the latter being more malleable than the former ones at later ages. Abilities other than cognitive can therefore be relevant when teenagers are involved in policy interventions such as remedial education programs. We address two questions: can remedial educational interventions improve their non-cognitive skills? and, can we expect heterogeneous effects depending on the students' gender? In doing so, we take advantage of a remedial program for under-performing students recently implemented in Spain.

Following recent literature, we consider testing and survey behaviours, in particular, decline in performance during the test, as our main measures of non-cognitive skills. Information on these abilities is obtained from external evaluations of the schools, the PISA 2012 tests. We compare non-cognitive skills of students who attended schools that participated in the PAE with the hypothetical outcomes that these same students would have obtained had they not attended PAE schools. The counterfactual outcomes are inferred using schools that did not participate in the PAE but took the PISA exams. We employ two complementary estimation strategies: the matching procedure weighting method and a difference-indifferences approach.

We find that the PAE has a substantial positive effect on non-cognitive skills: the estimated increase on the ability to sustain test performance is between 0.042 and 0.047 of one standard deviation. In addition, it reduces the probability of falling behind into the bottom part of the ability to sustain test performance distribution by about 2 percentage points. The results are driven by girls and are explained by the positive gender gap in sustained test performance prior to the remedial intervention combined with a more effective participation in it among girls.


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles 1
Communications at national conferences 5
Communications at international conferences 8


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