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- PublicationDispersion in the economic return to schoolingWe extend the standard human capital earnings function to include dispersion in the return to schooling by treating the return as a random coefficient. If the rapid expansion in participation in higher education has been brought about by dipping further into the ability distribution, we should observe a rise in the variance of returns. Alternatively, if the expansion has come about through relaxing credit constraints then we might expect to see an increase in both the mean and variance of returns. Our estimates suggest that the variance in returns has not risen over time.
- PublicationThe determinants of self-rated health in the Republic of Ireland : further evidence and future directionsThis paper examines the determinants of self-rated health in the Republic of Ireland using data from the 2001 Quarterly National Household Survey Health Module and the 2005 ESRI Time Usage Survey. Results indicate that self-rated health is a useful proxy for self-reported chronic illness indices. Higher education, having private medical insurance cover and being married is associated with better self-rated health. The strong inverse relationship between age and self-rated health is found to be robust to the inclusion of self-reported morbidity. Caregivers display lower self-rated health, even after controlling for age, marital status and education. We find only minor effects of gender. Understanding further the causal nature of the above associations is a key issue for future research.
- PublicationValidating the use of vignettes for subjective threshold scalesComparing self-assessed indicators of subjective outcomes such as health, work disability, political efficacy, job satisfaction, etc. across countries or socio-economic groups is often hampered by the fact that different groups use systematically different response scales. Anchoring vignettes have been introduced as an effective tool to correct for such differences. This paper develops an integrated framework in which objective measurements are used to validate the vignette based corrections. The framework is applied to vignettes and objective and subjective self-assessments of drinking behavior by students in Ireland. Model comparisons using the Akaike information criterion favor a specification with response consistency and vignette corrected response scales. Put differently, vignette based corrections appear quite effective in bringing objective and subjective measures closer together.
- PublicationSocial consensus, income policies and unemployment
- PublicationParental education, grade attainment and earnings expectations among university studentsWhile there is an extensive literature on intergenerational transmission of economic outcomes (education, health and income for example), many of the pathways through which these outcomes are transmitted are not as well understood. We address this deficit by analysing the relationship between socio-economic status and child outcomes in university, based on a rich and unique dataset of university students. While large socio-economic differences in academic performance exist at the point of entry into university, these differences are substantially narrowed during the period of study. Importantly, the differences across socio-economic backgrounds in university grade attainment for female students is explained by intermediating variables such as personality, risk attitudes and time preferences, and subject/college choices. However, for male students, we explain less than half of the socio-economic gradient through these same pathways. Despite the weakening socio-economic effect in grade attainment, a key finding is that large socio-economic differentials in the earnings expectations of university students persist, even when controlling for grades in addition to our rich set of controls. Our findings pose a sizable challenge for policy in this area as they suggest that equalising educational outcomes may not translate into equal labour market outcomes.
- PublicationThe marginal and average returns to schoolingThe existing literature now features many examples where log wages are linear in years of schooling and which effectively attempt to correct for least squares bias using instruments based essentially on a single variable. Two recent developments, taken together, cast some doubt on the downward bias in least squares estimates of the return to schooling that have been an important feature of the recent literature. The first is the realization that instrumental variable (IV) only estimate the effects of some treatment if the effect is the same for everyone. The second is that IV may only estimate the effect of the treatment on the individuals whose choices are affected by the instrument in question [extract]
- PublicationThe economics of early childhood care and education : technical research paper for the National Economic and Social Forum
- PublicationEducation policy reform and the return to schooling from instrumental variablesThis paper exploits an unusual policy reform that had the effect of reducing the direct cost of schooling in Ireland in the late 1960’s. This gave rise to an increased level of schooling but with effects that vary substantially across family background. This interaction of educational reform and family background generates a set of instrumental variables that are used to estimate the return to schooling allowing for the endogeneity of schooling. Using a standard Mincer type model we find a large and well-determined rate of return of around 12% which are substantially higher than the OLS estimates of around 7%.
- PublicationDispersion in the economic return to schoolingIn this paper we extend the standard human capital earnings function to include dispersion in the rate of return to schooling by treating the return as a random coefficient. One motivation is that if the increase in supply of skilled workers has been brought about by dipping further into the ability distribution. Alternatively if the expansion in post-compulsory education comes about through relaxed credit constraints then we might expect this to increase average ability in the pool of educated workers. Either event might lead to a rise in the variance in returns. Based on a sample of data from the United Kingdom our estimates suggest that neither the mean nor the dispersion in returns to schooling has altered significantly over time. This is consistent with educational expansion not leading to a disproportionate inflow of low ability individuals into the system.
- PublicationAn econometric analysis of burglary in IrelandThis paper outlines an econometric model of the level of burglary in Ireland between 1952 and 1998. We explain the evolution of the trend in Burglary in terms of demographic factors: in this case the share of young males in the population, the macro-economy in the form of consumer expenditure and two characteristics of the criminal justice system : the detection rate for these crimes and the size of the prison population. The share of young males is associated with higher levels of these crimes. Imprisonment and detection act as powerful forces for reducing crimes, the effects of aggregate consumption are more difficult to pin down but we show that higher spending is associated with more lucrative but probably fewer crimes. One somewhat surprising result is that we were unable to find any robust effect from direct measures of labour market activity such as unemployment rates or wage levels.