Now showing 1 - 10 of 11
  • Publication
    Achievement-related attitudes and the fate of 'at-risk' groups in society
    What causes poverty and how does an individual escape it? Factors such as intelligence and social class background are thought to be important. However, a number of economists have argued that an individual’s profile of achievement-related attitudes (ARAs) like work-orientation and conscientiousness might play a role in social success and failure. Part of their attraction is that these attitudes are regarded as responsive to nurturing and may be especially significant for those individuals with few formal skills to offer the labour market. The NCDS longitudinal dataset was interrogated to assess whether ARAs predicted an individual’s earnings measured almost two decades later. Results indicated that ARAs explain a good deal of variance in earnings, particularly for "at-risk" males. Social policy implications are discussed.
    Scopus© Citations 7  776
  • Publication
    Fairly satisfied : economic equality, wealth and satisfaction
    (Elsevier, 2004-06)
    Research appears to demonstrate that economic variables are only marginally predictive of levels of social satisfaction. It was hypothesised that a greater association might be found between satisfaction and equality of income distribution rather than between satisfaction and size of income. The interrelationship between wealth (GDPpc), equality of income and mean satisfaction for fifteen EU states was assessed over a four year period (1995-1998). Equality of income was significantly and positively associated with mean satisfaction levels for all four years while wealth was significantly associated with mean satisfaction only in 1995. One possible interpretation is that egalitarian societies are more satisfying for their members, either because of greater social cohesion or because they have more challenging work opportunities for a greater proportion of individuals. However alternative explanations for the association of equality and satisfaction could only be ruled out when consistent data on equality is gathered over a longer period of time.
      1259Scopus© Citations 33
  • Publication
    Anti 'social capital': civic values versus economic equality in the EU
    (Oxford University Press, 2003-07)
    The concept of Social Capital suggests that societies with more dense social networks will have more effective political institutions, be more cohesive and display stronger economic performances. However the causal foundations of this influential model have not been closely examined. The evidence put forward in Putnam's analysis of the Italian regions is critiqued. An empirical assessment of the model in relation to EU member states is carried out. Although the data fit the model, an alternative Equality model is statistically stronger as well as intuitively more appealing. The reasons for the strong appeal of the Social Capital model despite its weaknesses are discussed.
      981Scopus© Citations 24
  • Publication
    Wait for it : delay-discounting and academic performance among an Irish adolescent sample
    Beyond cognitive ability and family background, are there other significant determinants of educational attainment? From research in psychology, economics, education and criminology, one powerful influence is the ability to delay gratification, operationalised in this paper as ‘delay-discounting’. It is intuitively plausible that the ability to subordinate short-term appetites in order to obtain long-term goals could have positive consequences for academic achievement. A representative sample of 1,131 students preparing for a state examination were offered a series of hypothetical options in which prize winnings, and the interval before the winnings could be collected, were varied. Greater willingness to wait was rewarded with increments in winnings. Participants were also given a short test of cognitive ability, asked about their academic achievement, and family and community status. A multivariate analysis indicated that, while controlling for cognitive ability and economic deprivation, delay-discounting made a significant prediction of attainment. Policy implications for children’s learning are discussed.
    Scopus© Citations 12  804
  • Publication
    Changes in Roman Catholic Beliefs and Practices in Ireland between 1981 and 2008 and the Emergence of the Liberal Catholic
    (Taylor and Francis, 2015-04-29) ;
    This study aimed to investigate the changes that have occurred in the religious beliefs and practices of Roman Catholics in Ireland between 1981 and 2008 and to examine the extent to which Catholics have become liberal in their attitudes towards social issues over this period. Data were derived from 23 religious indicators and six social items sourced from the European Values Study (EVS). Only Roman Catholic respondents (n=3810) were included in the analysis. Data were analysed using ANOVA, t-tests, and chi-square tests. The majority of religious indicators were found to be in significant decline between 1981 and 2008. Also, Catholic attitudes towards homosexuality, euthanasia, abortion, prostitution, divorce, and the use of 'soft drugs' were found to have become significantly more liberal over this period. These findings support not only the notions of privatisation of religion and morality but also the emergence of a liberal ethos among a considerable proportion of Catholics in Ireland. Results are discussed in relation to theories of secularisation, believing without belonging, and the emergence of Liberal Catholics. Suggestions for future research, such as investigating the effect of conflict between one's Catholic identity and liberal views, are made.
      890Scopus© Citations 14
  • Publication
    Achievement in national scholastic examinations and its link with measured cognitive ability among a representative Irish sample
    The paper examines the relationship between cognitive ability at approximately seventeen years of age and academic achievement in a nationwide set of examinations taken prior to this time. The sample comprised 6,216 children who participated in wave 3 of the Growing Up in Ireland (GUI) longitudinal study. Other variables assessed included gender, personality measures, household income, parental educational achievement, and school attributes. Up to ten variables made a statistically significant contribution in explaining achievement, but cognitive ability was by far the most important, followed by gender. Entering a cognitive ability measure taken in wave 2 of the longitudinal survey (four years previously) instead of wave 3 produced an almost identical outcome in a multiple regression. While boys outperformed girls on the cognitive measure, girls outperformed boys, with a small effect size, in educational achievement; this might be explained by girls’ higher scores on the dimension, ‘conscientiousness’. Household income was only modestly associated with educational achievement.
  • Publication
    Psychological, economic and academic predictors of the intention to leave school early among a sample of Irish students
    (Combat Poverty Agency, 2009-12) ;
    Early school-leaving exerts substantial costs on the individual and society. The literature indicates that quitting school early is predicted by an enmeshed group of indicators including academic and behavioural difficulties in school, deprived economic background and disengagement with the educational process. The beliefs and background of a main sample of 1,311 Junior Certificate students and a sub-sample of 188 fifth year students were assessed. Data were gathered on Intention to leave school early, constructs of the Theory of Planned Behaviour around Leaving Certificate completion, students’ academic attainment, cognitive ability, willingness to defer gratification, along with socio-demographic data. Modelling indicated that positive attitudes about the potential of the Leaving Certificate, and parents, and teachers perceived to be strongly pro-school completion are key to the intention to stay on. Performing well intellectually is a contributing factor. Economic deprivation does not exert a direct influence on intention, but it strongly shapes intellectual performance.
  • Publication
    Are disparities in the educational performance of children from different family backgrounds associated with level of country development?
    Disparities in the educational performance of children of different family backgrounds is of interest to researchers, alongside the related issue of the trajectories of these disparities. Are gaps between more and less socially advantaged children widening or narrowing? The analysis in this paper examines data derived from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to make comparisons in the mathematics and reading performance of representative samples of fifteen-year olds in 64 different countries in 2015. Specifically, the performance of children of highly educated versus moderately educated parents were compared, as were the children of fathers in high status occupations versus low/medium status occupations. United Nations data on country development, and OECD data on average country spending on children’s education were included in the assessment. Analysis indicated that the gap between children of less well-educated parents or of fathers in lower status occupations and those children whose parents were better educated, or whose fathers were in higher status occupations, were significantly greater in countries that were more developed. This was despite the evidence that more developed countries spend more per pupil in education.
  • Publication
    Economic forces and anti-immigrant attitudes in Western Europe : a paradox in search of an explanation
    (Taylor & Francis, 2005-03)
    Greater economic hardship is widely conceived as conducive to higher levels of majority hostility towards minority groups. Research in the classical social- psychological tradition as well as data on political trends support such a view. However, more recent survey and experimental findings cast doubt on the economic deprivation model of out-group hostility. O’Connell examines responses to sections of the European Social Survey that suggest that economic deprivation is still linked to out-group hostility, and argues that this position is contradicted by recent trends in anti-immigrant politics: electoral support for far-right parties has been more prevalent in wealthier and more materially secure societies than in poorer ones. He offers an explanation for this apparent paradox, suggesting that increased economic security has both direct and indirect effects on a society, and that these effects run counter to each other. As economic scarcity decreases, concerns over economic rivalry decline but new concerns related to integration emerge, particularly as the society becomes more attractive to migrants.
      1048Scopus© Citations 20
  • Publication
    Affluence versus Equality? A critique of Wilkinson and Pickett’s book ‘The Spirit Level’
    The Spirit Level made strong claims that in developed countries, income growth was no longer important and the focus should turn to income differentials within society. Putting affluence before parity and solidarity led to the rise of widespread anxiety, insecurity and social dysfunction. In this paper, six problems are identified with the argument made in the Spirit Level: 1. There is no conflict between wealth and equality. In fact they tend to be highly correlated (i.e. wealthy societies are far more egalitarian than poorer societies); 2. Correlational data are relied upon to imply causal direction; 3. The focus on income inequality ignores the role of savings and state services; 4. There is no evidence that people are systematically stigmatised by buying ‘second-class’ goods; 5. Investment in ‘luxuries’ in wealthy countries have unforeseen consequences in raising living standards in poorer countries, e.g. the mobile phone; 6. The status of women is far more highly associated with a country’s wealth than its level of inequality.