Now showing 1 - 10 of 46
  • Publication
    Breaking the cycle of deprivation : an experimental evaluation of an early childhood intervention
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2012-04)
    Deprivation early in life has multiple long term consequences for both the individual and society. An increasing body of evidence finds that targeted, early interventions aimed at at-risk children and their families can reduce socioeconomic inequalities in children’s skills and capabilities. This paper describes a randomised control trial (RCT) evaluation of a five-year preventative programme which aims to improve the school readiness skills of socioeconomically disadvantaged children. The Preparing for Life (PFL) programme is one of the first studies in Ireland to use random assignment to experimentally modify the environment of high risk families and track its impact over time. This paper describes the design and motivation for the study, the randomisation procedure adopted and the baseline data collected. Using Monte Carlo permutation testing, it finds that the randomisation procedure was successful as there are no systematic differences between the treatment and control groups at baseline. This indicates that future analysis of treatment effects over the course of the five year evaluation can be causally attributed to the programme and used to determine the impact of Preparing for Life on children’s school readiness skills.
  • Publication
    Political interest, cognitive ability and personality : determinants of voter turnout in Britain
    (Cambridge University Press, 2008) ;
    This article uses longitudinal data from the National Child Development Study (NCDS) to investigate the determinants of voter turnout in the 1997 British general election. It introduces measures of cognitive ability and personality into the participation literature and finds that they are significant determinants of turnout. It also shows that standard turnout models may be biased by the inclusion of the much used ‘interest in politics' measure. A bivariate probit model of turnout and political interest finds that individuals with high comprehension ability and an aggressive personality are more likely to both turn out to vote and have an interest in politics.
      1762Scopus© Citations 147
  • Publication
    Expressive language and prosocial behaviour in early childhood: Longitudinal associations in the UK Millennium Cohort Study
    Background: Early childhood is a crucial period for language development and building social skills. While distinct, these two processes may impact upon each other. Aims: The current study aimed to identify the directional associations between expressive language ability and prosocial behaviour between three and five years of age. Methods: Participants included 14, 004 children and their families enrolled in the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). Children’s expressive language and prosocial behaviour were assessed at three and five years of age utilizing standardized assessments and parent reports. Cross-lagged models were used for data analysis. Results: Better expressive language at three years was associated with increased prosocial behaviour by five years. No support for the inverse direction of association was found. Conclusions: Children’s early ability to effectively express themselves with others may help in building better social relationships by entry into formal schooling. Programming efforts that are tailored towards enhancing positive behavioural growth and social skills in the toddler years are likely to be effective when expressive language is also a targeted component of the toddler’s skill development.
      1317Scopus© Citations 33
  • Publication
    Be good, know the rules’: Children’s perspectives on starting school and self-regulation
    Despite the importance of self-regulation for school readiness and success across the lifespan, little is known about children’s conceptions of this important ability. Using mixed-method interviews, this research examined kindergarten children’s (n = 57) perspectives on self-regulation in a disadvantaged area in Dublin, Ireland. Children depicted school as requiring regulation of their emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses. They characterised school as a dynamic setting, placing emphasis on the regulatory challenges of the outdoor environment. Children also described difficulties associated with navigating complex social interactions, often without assistance from external supports. The results inform strategies to support children’s emerging self-regulation abilities.
    Scopus© Citations 9  666
  • Publication
    Should Early Health Investments Work? Evidence from an RCT of a Home Visiting Programme
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2020-07) ;
    Evidence for the short-term impact of early intervention on childhood health is weak and inconsistent. Using rigorous methods, careful hypothesis setting, and socioeconomic contextualisation, we examine the impact of an Irish home visiting programme on child health. The treatment provides mentoring visits from pregnancy until school entry to improve child outcomes through positively affecting parenting. In a context where socioeconomic inequalities in health have yet to emerge, modest effects by age four are found, driven by reduced hospital attendance. Conflicting reports in the literature may thus arise from an over-expectation of hypothesized effects and failure to account for social contexts.
  • Publication
    Factors associated with breastfeeding initiation: A comparison between France and French-speaking Canada
    Background: Breastfeeding is associated with multiple domains of health for both mothers and children. Nevertheless, breastfeeding initiation is low within certain developed countries. Furthermore, comparative studies of initiation rates using harmonised data across multiple regions is scarce. Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate and compare individual-level determinants of breastfeeding initiation using two French-speaking cohorts. Methods: Participants included ~ 3,900 mothers enrolled in two cohort studies in Canada and France. Interviews, questionnaires, and medical records were utilised to collect information on maternal, family, and medical factors associated with breastfeeding initiation. Results: Rates of breastfeeding initiation were similar across cohorts, slightly above 70%. Women in both Canada and France who had higher levels of maternal education, were born outside of their respective countries and who did not smoke during pregnancy were more likely to initiate breastfeeding with the cohort infant. Notably, cohort effects of maternal education at the university level were found, whereby having 'some university' was not statistically significant for mothers in France. Further, younger mothers in Canada, who delivered by caesarean section and who had previous children had reduced odds of breastfeeding initiation. These results were not found for mothers in France. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: While some similar determinants were observed, programming efforts to increase breastfeeding initiation should be tailored to the characteristics of specific geographical regions which may be heavily impacted by the social, cultural and political climate of the region, in addition to individual and family level factors.
      326Scopus© Citations 14
  • Publication
    Returns to basic skills in Central & Eastern Europe : a semi parametric approach
    (UCD Geary Institute, 2005-04-06) ;
    This paper uses semi-parametric econometric techniques to investigate the relationship between basic skills and earning in three post-communist countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia using the IALS dataset. While the large increases in the returns to education in the new market economies has been well documented in the literature, no study to date has examined the impact of basic skills and schooling on income. Estimating a Mincer human capital model we find that including a measure of basic skills reduces the returns to education. In addition, using a partial linear model in which log earnings is linear in schooling, but is an arbitrary function of basic skills, we find that this relationship is not well described by the common assumption of linearity at the tails of the distribution.
  • Publication
    Developmental Associations between Conduct Problems and Expressive Language in Early Childhood: A Population-Based Study
    Conduct problems have been associated with poor language development, however the direction of this association in early childhood remains unclear. This study examined the longitudinal directional associations between conduct problems and expressive language ability. Children enrolled in the UK Millennium Cohort Study (N = 14, 004; 50.3 % boys) were assessed at 3 and 5 years of age. Parent reports of conduct problems and standardised assessments of expressive language were analyzed using cross-lagged modeling. Conduct problems at 3 years was associated with poorer expressive language at 5 years and poorer expressive language at 3 years was associated with increased conduct problems by 5 years. The results support reciprocal associations, rather than a specific unidirectional path, which is commonly found with samples of older children. The emergence of problems in either domain can thus negatively impact upon the other over time, albeit the effects were modest. Studies examining the effects of intervention targeting conduct problems and language acquisition prior to school entry may be warranted in testing the efficacy of prevention programmes related to conduct problems and poor language ability early in childhood.
      658Scopus© Citations 43
  • Publication
    Self-Regulation: Learning Across Disciplines
    The capacity to self-regulate is a key developmental ability that has become a focal point for research across multiple disciplines. Yet interdisciplinary collaboration on self-regulation is rare and the term is often applied in different ways across studies. Drawing on literature from psychology, medical sciences, sociology, and economics, this article provides a synthesis of disciplinary approaches to research on self-regulation. A review of search returns from one prominent database per discipline is used to investigate overlap and divergence on the topic. This review argues that interdisciplinary collaboration has the potential to integrate perspectives on self-regulation into a more coherent body of work, resulting in advances that could not be achieved through any one discipline alone. The review also identifies and discusses three current impediments to collaboration: terminology, measurement, and disciplinary conventions.
      615Scopus© Citations 8
  • Publication
    Does voting history matter : analysing persistence in turnout
    (University College Dublin; Geary Institute, 2005-12-01) ;
    Individuals who vote in one election are also more likely to vote in the next. Modelling the causal relationship between consecutive voting decisions however is intrinsically difficult, as this positive association can exist due to unobserved heterogeneity (i.e. some fixed, but unobserved, characteristics makes voters consistently turn out to vote) or habit formation (i.e. past turnout decisions influence subsequent turnout decisions). This paper overcomes this problem using longitudinal data from the British National Child Development Study (NCDS) to examine voting behaviour across three elections. Utilising techniques developed in the econometrics literature we find that failing to control for unobserved heterogeneity overestimates the extent of habit formation by almost 100%. Estimating a dynamic model of voter turnout, allowing for unobserved heterogeneity, implies that voting in one election increases the probability of voting in the next by about 13%. This figure is far less than previous studies have identified.