Now showing 1 - 10 of 46
  • Publication
    Maternal Employment, Childcare and Childhood Overweight during Infancy
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2014-10) ;
    This paper examines the relationship between maternal employment, childcare during infancy and the overweight status of pre-school children. Using data from the Infant Cohort of the Growing-Up in Ireland Survey, propensity score matching addresses the issue of potential selection bias, quantile regression allows the impact of both maternal employment and childcare to be examined throughout the weight distribution and multiple imputation is used to address the problem of missing data due to item non-response. The results suggest that both full-time and part-time maternal employment when a child is 9 months old increase the likelihood of being overweight at 3 years old, but only for children of mothers with higher levels of education. Informal childcare at 9 months also has harmful effects on child weight, but again only for children of more educated mothers. Quantile regression finds that the children most impacted by maternal employment are those at the upper percentiles of the weight distribution. When selection on observables is used to assess bias arising from selection on unobservables, maternal employment estimates are determined to be a lower bound, while informal childcare results could be attributed to selection bias. Overall findings are consistent with research from North America and the United Kingdom, and are in contrast to recent findings from the rest of Europe, suggesting the possible role of institutional factors.
      131
  • Publication
    The impact of parental income and education on the health of their children
    (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2005-11) ; ;
    This paper investigates the robustness of recent findings on the effect of parental background on child health. We are particularly concerned with the extent to which their finding that income effects on child health are the result of spurious correlation rather than some causal mechanism. A similar argument can be made for the effect of education - if parental education and child health are correlated with some common unobservable (say, low parental time preference) then least squares estimates of the effect of parental education will be biased upwards. Moreover, it is very common for parental income data to be grouped, in which case income is measured with error and the coefficient on income will be biased towards zero and there are good reasons why the extent of bias may vary with child age. Fixed effect estimation is undermined by measurement error and here we adopt the traditional solution to both spurious correlation and measurement error and use an instrumental variables approach. Our results suggest that the income effects observed in the data are spurious.
      247
  • Publication
    Did political constraints bind during transition? Evidence from Czech elections 1990-2002
    (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2005-08) ;
    Many theoretical models of transition are driven by the assumption that economic decision making is subject to political constraints. In this paper we empirically test whether the winners and losers of economic reform determined voting behaviour in the first five national elections in the Czech Republic. We propose that voters, taking stock of endowments from the planning era, could predict whether they would become "winners" or "losers" of transition. Using survey data we measure the percentage of individuals by region who were "afraid" and "not afraid" of economic reform in 1990. We define the former as potential "winners" who should vote for pro-reform parties, while latter are potential "losers" who should support leftwing parties. Using national election results and regional economic indicators, we demonstrate that there is persistence in support for pro-reform and communist parties driven by prospective voting based on initial conditions in 1990. As a result, we show that regional unemployment rates in 2002 are good predictors of regional voting patterns in 1990.
      328
  • Publication
    Report on children's profile at school entry 2008-2009 : evaluation of the 'Preparing For Life' early childhood intervention programme
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2009-06) ; ; ; ;
    The Children's Profile at School Entry (CPSE) was conducted by the UCD Geary Institute who have been commissioned by the Northside Partnership to assess the levels of school readiness in a designated disadvantaged community of Ireland, as part of an overall evaluation of the Preparing for Life (PFL) early childhood intervention programme.
      191
  • Publication
    The Effect of the Great Recession on Health: A Longitudinal Study of Irish Mothers 2001-2011
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2019-08) ; ;
    The relationship between recessions and health is mixed, with some evidence from the most recent financial crisis finding a positive effect on heath behaviours. This study uses longitudinal data spanning the periods before, during and after the Irish crisis of 2008, to test the impact of economic expansion and contraction on mothers physical and mental health and health behaviours. Three waves of data from the Irish Lifeways Cohort Study for the period 2001-2011, and local area employment rates from the Irish Census, are used to capture the impact of the recession on health, independent of individual employment status. The results from fixed effect linear probability models demonstrate that increases in the local unemployment rate are associated with significant increases in the probability of mothers reporting poor self-rated health and poor mental well-being. Yet the association between local area unemployment and health behaviours is mostly positive, with higher unemployment reducing the probability of being obese and tobacco consumption. The relationship with physical activity is more ambiguous. These results are largely consistent with the US literature, which is predominantly based on working men, thus demonstrating the universal impact of recessions on health.
      190
  • Publication
    Breast is best, but for how long? Testing breastfeeding guidelines for optimal cognitive ability
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2008) ;
    Objectives: To investigate the relationship between breastfeeding duration and cognitive development using longitudinal survey data. The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend exclusive breastfeeding until six months post-partum and a combination of complementary foods and breast milk thereafter. This study estimates non-parametric regression models to test whether these recommendations also hold for cognitive ability. Design: Longitudinal cohort study with two waves of 18,819 children who were born in the UK between 2000-2002. We estimate several generalised additive regression models to examine the impact of exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding duration on cognitive ability, while controlling for a range of confounding family characteristics. Setting and Participants: Participants of the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). Main outcome measures: Cognitive development at age three as measured by the Bracken School Readiness Assessment. Results: The models identify a non-linear relationship between exclusive and non-exclusive breastfeeding and cognitive ability. There are high initial positive returns to exclusive breastfeeding which peak at six months, with the returns to non-exclusive breastfeeding continuing to increase until 10/12 months. These results suggest that the WHO/AAP guidelines recommending exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life also hold for optimal cognitive ability. The models also show that the optimal switching point from exclusive to nonexclusive breastfeeding occurs at six months, and that a combination of breast milk and solids should continue until thereafter, peaking at 10 months. Conclusion: While breastfeeding recommendations primarily target physical growth and development, our study confirms that such recommendations are also optimal for cognitive development. These results provide further evidence that recent UK policy initiatives to extend paid maternity leave is appropriate for the maximal development of the child’s cognitive ability. While this study controls for a range of confounding factors, there may still exist unobserved family characteristics which mediate this relationship.
      701
  • 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.
      217
  • Publication
    Early intervention and child health: Evidence from a Dublin-based randomized controlled trial
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2015-04) ; ; ;
    This article investigates the impact of an early intervention program, which experimentally modifies the parenting and home environment of disadvantaged families, on child health in the first 3 years of life. We recruited and randomized 233 (115 intervention, 118 control) pregnant women from a socioeconomically disadvantaged community in Dublin, Ireland into an intervention or control group. The treatment includes regular home visits commencing antenatally and an additional parenting course commencing at 2 years. Maternal reports of child health are assessed at 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months. Treatment effects are estimated using permutation testing to account for small sample size, inverse probability weighting to account for differential attrition, and the stepdown procedure to account for multiple hypothesis testing. Following adjustment for multiple testing and attrition, we observe a positive and statistically significant main treatment effect for wheezing/asthma. The intervention group are 15.5 percentage points (pp) less likely to require medical attention for wheezing/asthma compared to the control group. Statistically significant individual main effects which do not survive multiple testing and IPW-adjustment are found for general health (10.0 pp), hospitalizations (8.2 pp), immunizations (8.6 pp), chest infections (12.2 pp) and the number of health problems (d = 0.34). Subgroup analysis reveals more statistically significant adjusted treatment effects for boys than girls regarding fewer health problems (d = 0.63), accidents (23.9 pp), and chest infections (22.8 – 37.9 pp). Our results suggest that a community-based home visiting program may have favorable impacts on early health conditions. As child ill health is costly to society due to an increased demand on health resources and long-term productivity losses, identifying effective interventions to counteract inequalities in health is important from a policy perspective.
      99
  • Publication
    Early intervention and child health: Evidence from a Dublin-based randomized controlled trial
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2015-04) ; ; ;
    This article investigates the impact of an early intervention program, which experimentally modifies the parenting and home environment of disadvantaged families, on child health in the first 3 years of life. We recruited and randomized 233 (115 intervention, 118 control) pregnant women from a socioeconomically disadvantaged community in Dublin, Ireland into an intervention or control group. The treatment includes regular home visits commencing antenatally and an additional parenting course commencing at 2 years. Maternal reports of child health are assessed at 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months. Treatment effects are estimated using permutation testing to account for small sample size, inverse probability weighting to account for differential attrition, and the stepdown procedure to account for multiple hypothesis testing. Following adjustment for multiple testing and attrition, we observe a positive and statistically significant main treatment effect for wheezing/asthma. The intervention group are 15.5 percentage points (pp) less likely to require medical attention for wheezing/asthma compared to the control group. Statistically significant individual main effects which do not survive multiple testing and IPW-adjustment are found for general health (10.0 pp), hospitalizations (8.2 pp), immunizations (8.6 pp), chest infections (12.2 pp) and the number of health problems (d = 0.34). Subgroup analysis reveals more statistically significant adjusted treatment effects for boys than girls regarding fewer health problems (d = 0.63), accidents (23.9 pp), and chest infections (22.8 – 37.9 pp). Our results suggest that a communitybased home visiting program may have favorable impacts on early health conditions. As child ill health is costly to society due to an increased demand on health resources and long-term productivity losses, identifying effective interventions to counteract inequalities in health is important from a policy perspective.
      118
  • Publication
    The Impact of Terrorism on Well-being: Evidence from the Boston Marathon Bombing
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2017-08-25) ; ;
    A growing literature concludes that terrorism impacts the economy, yet less is known about its impact on utility. This paper estimates the impact of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing on well-being, by exploiting representative U.S. daily data. Using both a regression discontinuity and an event study design, whereby the 2012 Boston marathon serves as a counterfactual, we find a sharp reduction in well-being, equivalent to a two percentage point rise in annual unemployment. The effect is stronger for women and those living in nearby States, but does not persist beyond one week, thus demonstrating the resilience of well-being to terrorism.
      42