Raul Garcia Hemonnet
Monday, November 7 has been a big day for the faculty of the Rey Juan Carlos University. Not every day, not even every academic year, does a Nobel laureate become part of the university community.
The auditorium of the library of the Madrid campus has been the scene (you can see all the images of the act, here) in which the MIT professor and (shared) Nobel Prize winner in Economics 2021 for his contributions to intercausal relationships in econometrics has received the 'Honoris Causa' doctorate from the URJC.
Discovery as the engine
Angrist has structured his 'Honoris Causa' doctorate acceptance speech around the idea of discovery. Among research on military salaries and other examples, Angrist highlighted recent work that was not mentioned in the recognized works of the Nobel. “New York families with children have contributed to this work, as well as those from other places,” she noted. He mentioned that in New York and in other cities and countries of the world when choosing a school for boys and girls, many centers have more applicants than places, so "the school acceptance algorithm is used," he said, based on random numbers with the objective of avoiding the creation of inequalities. The experiment, Angrist noted, “is complicated by the variety of applicants for places in the schools. We at MIT have developed the formula that reveals the implicit strata among the accepted candidates in the schools”.
This, Angrist notes, leads to "surprising findings." In the American system, young people fight for places in a series of prestigious institutes throughout the country. These institutes, due to their selection method “admit very few Hispanic and Afro-American students” which causes a continuous controversy about the role of these schools in the US public system. "Our research has shown that, although the exams of these centers are good for selecting bright young people, they do not work when it comes to giving access to bright Hispanic and African-American young people" "Our work shows that going to these so-called prestigious schools does not mean they to get better results. We call this "the illusion of the elite," says Angrist.
“Higher education must be a priority for politics”
The rector of the URJC, Javier Ramos, thanked Angrist for having accepted the university's invitation to become a new doctor 'Honoris Causa' and recalled, citing some of the Nobel Prize winner's famous works, the importance of higher education to when it comes to accessing better paid jobs for what he has considered "should be a priority for politics".
In this sense, he has indicated that, "when we see that the budgets for the university are not updated and that the legislative reforms are not ambitious, we worry". Javier Ramos has recalled that education in general and higher education in particular, produces a return "in terms of social progress". And he has pointed out that this is manifested in the discoveries of Joshua Angrist developed in his research on the economics of education, labor and other social policies.
Class size influences school performance
The professor of Applied Economics, Ismael Sanz, has been responsible for the 'laudatio' of the new doctor 'Honoris Causa'. In his speech, he reviewed several of the investigations that have led Angrist to be recognized by the URJC and, above all, to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2021.
Among the works cited, Sanz has mentioned how Angrist and his partner Victor Lavy, recovered a rule enunciated by the wise Maimonides who already in the twelfth century pointed out that "for a good performance, classes should have, at most, up to 25 students. From 25 students, a teacher and an assistant are needed and, with 40 students, it is necessary to split the class”, Sanz has indicated.
Angrist and Lavy scientifically demonstrated the validity of this norm, analyzing the Israeli school system.
Sanz reviewed two other examples of the work of the new doctor 'Honoris Causa', related to the economics of education and stressed the impact of his studies on educational policies.
An important day for the URJC and the university community, in which it has added a Nobel Prize winner in Economics to its faculty.