PhD defence: Helge Sandvig Thorsen

PhD Defense

13 April 2016 10:10

PhD defence: Helge Sandvig Thorsen

On Monday 25 April 2016, Helge Sandvig Thorsen will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend his thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.

Prescribed topic for the trial lecture

The validity and policy implications of teacher quality measures

Trial lecture

10:15 in the Jebsen Centre, NHH

Title of the thesis

Essays on production of knowledge capital


Quality in education is an important source of knowledge accumulation in a society. Two of the chapters in Thorsen´ s thesis explore factors that may influence the quality of education.

The first chapter concerns consolidation of rural lower secondary schools in Norway. The analysis explores how consolidation affects the academic performance of exposed students. The results do not leave any reason to believe that the consolidations are either beneficial or detrimental for student performance. While closures cause a reduction in the grade-point average from lower secondary school, this effect appears to be caused by relatively lenient grading in small schools.

The second chapter explores the supply of ability to the teacher profession. Both anecdotal and academic evidence point out teacher quality as the most important factor for quality in education. This chapter holds an analysis of trends in the relative cognitive ability of candidates who are recruited to the teacher profession. The analysis reveals a persistent decline over the past decades. From cohorts born in the early 1930s to birth cohorts from the late 1970s, the decline is in the order of 15 percentiles in the distribution of cognitive test scores.

Commercial R&D investment is another form of production of knowledge capital. The attempts to calculate the return on such investment constitute a substantial research field. The third chapter of this thesis explores whether reported results in this literature appear to be representative for the underlying effect. The analysis suggests that the explored literature is subject to a publication bias. The authors conclude that 23% of a hypothetical complete sample is missing.


12:15 in the Jebsen Centre, NHH

Members of the evaluation committee


Associate Professor Aline Bütikofer (leader of the committee) Norwegian School of Economics

Associate Professor Björn Öckert, Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

Professor Hans Bonesrønning, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Supervising committee

Professor Kjell G. Salvanes (principal supervisor), Norwegian School of Economics

Professor Jarle Møen, Norwegian School of Economics

Professor David N. Figlio, Northwestern University, Illinois

research news