The effect of local calamities on educational achievement

Dinand Webbink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study investigates the impact of two local calamities - an explosion at a firework factory in the city of Enschede on 13 May and afire at a discotheque on 1 January 2001 during a New Years Eve party in the town of Volendam - on the educational achievement of children at the end of their primary education. Based on a quasi-experimental design with both control groups and pre-tests, we found that in the three years following the two tragedies, the test scores of girls in those areas closest to the events were on average 0.2 standard deviations lower. This corresponds to a downward shift in the distribution of girls' test scores. Boys' test scores, meanwhile, were not significantly affected by the disasters, and nor were the scores of pupils from nearby areas. In the three years following the calamities, girls' test scores in one of the areas (Volendam) have slowly recovered, although they remain well below their pre-event level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-515
Number of pages17
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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