Now showing 1 - 10 of 48
  • Publication
    On The Origins of Risk-Taking
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2015-06) ; ; ;
    Risk-taking behavior is highly correlated between parents and their children; however, little is known about the extent to which these relationships are genetic or determined by environmental factors. We use data on stock market participation of Swedish adoptees and relate this to the investment behavior of both their biological and adoptive parents. We find that stock market participation of parents increases that of children by about 34% and that both pre-birth and post-birth factors are important. However, once we condition on having positive financial wealth, we find that nurture has a much stronger influence on risk-taking by children, and the evidence of a relationship between stock-holding of biological parents and their adoptive children becomes very weak. We find similar results when we study the share of financial wealth that is invested in stocks. This suggests that a substantial proportion of risk-attitudes and behavior is environmentally determined.
      134
  • Publication
    Gender Differences in STEM Persistence after Graduation
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2022-06) ;
    Much attention is focused on finding ways to encourage females to study STEM in school and college but what actually happens once women complete a STEM degree? We use the UK Quarterly Labour Force Survey to trace out gender differences in STEM persistence over the career. We find a continuous process whereby women are more likely to exit STEM than men. Among holders of STEM undergraduate degrees, women are more likely to obtain a non- STEM master’s degree. Then, after entering the labour market, there is a gradual outflow of females during the first 15 years post-graduation so that females are about 20 percentage points less likely to work in STEM compared to their male counterparts. Conditional on leaving STEM, we find that females are more likely to enter the education and health sectors while males are more likely to enter the more lucrative business sector and that this can partly explain the gender pay gap for STEM graduates. Overall, our results suggest that policies that aim to increase the proportion of females studying STEM in school and college may have less effect than expected due to the lower attachment of females to STEM after graduation. Such policies may need to be augmented with efforts to tackle the greater propensity of females to exit STEM throughout the career.
      31
  • Publication
    How Gender and Prior Disadvantage predict Performance in College
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2020-05) ;
    Much research has shown that having a better class of degree has significant payoff in the labour market. Using administrative data from Ireland, we explore the performance in college of different types of students. We find that post-primary school achievement is an important predictor: Its relationship with college performance is concave for college completion, approximately linear for the probability of obtaining at least second class honours, upper division, and convex for the probability of obtaining a first class honours degree. We find that females do better in college than males, even after we account for their greater prior achievement, and this is true in both non-STEM and STEM fields. Disabled students, students from disadvantaged schools, and students who qualify for means-tested financial aid are less likely to complete and less likely to obtain first class honours or a 2.1 degree. However, once we control for post-primary school achievement, these students actually perform better in college than others. We also find that, conditional on prior achievement, students from private exam-oriented “grind” schools and from Irish-medium schools are less likely to finish a degree and less likely to perform well in college, possibly because their school exam results are high relative to their abilities. Our results suggest that current college policies that lower entry requirements for disabled students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds may be justified on efficiency as well as equity grounds. They also suggest that college performance might be improved by increasing entry requirements for students who come from school types that convey advantages in the post-primary exams that determine college entry.
      88
  • Publication
    Too young to leave the nest? The effects of school starting age
    (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2008-04) ; ;
    Does it matter when a child starts school? While the popular press seems to suggest it does, there is limited evidence of a long-run effect of school starting age on student outcomes. This paper uses data on the population of Norway to examine the role of school starting age on longer-run outcomes such as IQ scores at age 18, educational attainment, teenage pregnancy, and earnings. Unlike much of the recent literature, we are able to separate school starting age from test age effects using scores from IQ tests taken outside of school, at the time of military enrolment, and measured when students are around age 18. Importantly, there is variation in the mapping between year and month of birth and the year the test is taken, allowing us to distinguish the effects of school starting age from pure age effects. We find evidence for a small positive effect of starting school younger on IQ scores measured at age 18. In contrast, we find evidence of much larger positive effects of age at test, and these results are very robust. We also find that starting school younger has a significant positive effect on the probability of teenage pregnancy, but has little effect on educational attainment of boys or girls. There appears to be a short-run positive effect on earnings of beginning school at a younger age; however, this effect has essentially disappeared by age 30. This pattern is consistent with the idea that starting school later reduces potential labor market experience at a given age for a given level of education; however, this becomes less important as individuals age.
      484
  • Publication
    More Education, Less Volatility? The Effect of Education on Earnings Volatility over the Life Cycle
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2017-10) ;
    Much evidence suggests that having more education leads to higher earnings in the labor market. However, there is little evidence about whether having more education causes employees to experience lower earnings volatility or shelters them from the adverse effects of recessions. We use a large British administrative panel data set to study the impact of the 1972 increase in compulsory schooling on earnings volatility over the life cycle. Our estimates suggest that men exposed to the law change subsequently had lower earnings variability and less pro-cyclical earnings. However, there is little evidence that education affects earnings volatility of older men.
      347
  • Publication
    It’s not just for boys! Understanding Gender Differences in STEM
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2019-02) ;
    While education levels of women have increased dramatically relative to men, women are still greatly underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) college programmes. We use unique data on preference rankings for all secondary school students who apply for college in Ireland and detailed information on school subjects and grades to decompose the sources of the gender gap in STEM. We find that, of the 22 percentage points raw gap, about 13 percentage points is explained by differential subject choices and grades in secondary school. Subject choices are more important than grades -- we estimate male comparative advantage in STEM (as measured by subject grades) explains about 3 percentage points of the gender gap. Additionally, differences in overall achievement between girls and boys have a negligible effect. Strikingly, there remains a gender gap of 9 percentage points even for persons who have identical preparation at the end of secondary schooling (in terms of both subjects studied and grades achieved); however, this gap is only 4 percentage points for STEM-ready students. We find that gender gaps are smaller among high-achieving students and for students who go to school in more affluent areas. There is no gender gap in science (the large gaps are in engineering and technology), and we also find a smaller gender gap when we include nursing degrees in STEM, showing that the definition of STEM used is an important determinant of the conclusions reached.
      118
  • Publication
    Fragility of the Marginal Treatment Effect
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2022-01-25)
    Many interesting and important economic questions relate to the effects of binary treatments such as starting a college degree or participating in a job training program. The causal effects of these treatments are likely to be heterogeneous and recent research has emphasized the estimation of heterogeneous treatment effects, with a particular focus on Marginal Treatment Effects (MTEs). In this note, I describe why common methods of estimating MTEs of binary treatments can be very sensitive to omitted higher powers of covariates and demonstrate this using simple Monte Carlo simulations. I conclude by discussing approaches that may be useful for researchers to address this problem in practice.
      56
  • Publication
    The cyclicality of real wages within employer-employee matches
    (Cornell University, School of Industrial & Labor Relations, 2001-07)
    Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the author examines the cyclicality of wages within employer-employee matches for the years 1970-91. Recent research on wage cyclicality has suggested that wages are very procyclical (tending to rise and fall with economic upturns and downturns), even for workers who remain with the same employer. The author finds, however, that the evidence for wage procyclicality within the matches he examines is rather weak except for the small group of workers who were paid by piece rate or commissions. Despite having acyclical wage rates, men who were paid hourly had earnings movements that were very procyclical. Salaries exhibited little cyclicality, but salaried workers who had income sources from bonuses, commissions, or overtime had procyclical earnings. The results suggest that the increasing prevalence of incentive-based pay will increase the procyclicality of wages within matches.
      770
  • Publication
    The Effect of High School Rank in English and Math on College Major Choice
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2019-12) ;
    Using unique data on preference rankings for all high school students who apply for college in Ireland, we investigate whether, conditional on absolute achievement, within school-cohort rank in English and math affects choice of college major. We find that higher rank in math increases the likelihood of choosing STEM and decreases the likelihood of choosing Arts and Social Sciences. Similarly, a higher rank in English leads to an increase in the probability of choosing Arts and Social Sciences and decreases the probability of choosing STEM. The rank effects are substantial, being about one third as large as the effects of absolute performance in math and English. We identify subject choice in school as an important mediator – students who rank high in math are more likely to choose STEM subjects in school and this can partly explain their subsequent higher likelihood of choosing STEM for college. We also find that English and math rank have significant explanatory power for the gender gap in the choice of STEM as a college major--they can explain about 36% as much as absolute performance in English and math. Overall, the tendency for girls to be higher ranked in English and lower ranked in math within school-cohorts can explain about 6% of the STEM gender gap in mixed-sex schools and about 16% of the difference in the STEM gender gap between mixed-sex schools and same-sex schools. Notably, these effects occur even though within-school rank plays no role whatsoever in college admissions decisions.
      78
  • Publication
    Why the apple doesn't fall far : understanding intergenerational transmission of human capital
    (Institute for the Study of Labor, 2003-10) ; ;
    Parents with higher education levels have children with higher education levels. However, is this because parental education actually changes the outcomes of children, suggesting an important spillover of education policies, or is it merely that more able individuals who have higher education also have more able children? This paper proposes to answer this question by using a unique dataset from Norway. Using the reform of the education system that was implemented in different municipalities at different times in the 1960s as an instrument for parental education, we find little evidence of a causal relationship between parents’ education and children’s education, despite significant OLS relationships. We find 2SLS estimates that are consistently lower than the OLS estimates with the only statistically significant effect being a positive relationship between mother's education and son's education. These findings suggest that the high correlations between parents’ and children’s education are due primarily to family characteristics and inherited ability and not education spillovers.
      475