Now showing 1 - 10 of 27
  • Publication
    The impact of parental income and education on child health : further evidence for England
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2007-02-01) ; ;
    This paper investigates the robustness of recent findings on the effect of parental education and income on child health. We are particularly concerned about spurious correlation arising from the potential endogeneity of parental income and education. Using an instrumental variables approach, our results suggest that the parental income and education effects are generally larger than are suggested by the correlations observed in the data. Moreover, we find strong support for the causal effect of income being large for the poor, but small at the average level of income.
  • Publication
    Who benefits from child benefit?
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2007-06-08) ; ;
    Governments, over much of the developed world, make significant financial transfers to parents with dependent children. For example, in the US the recently introduced Child Tax Credit (CTC), which goes to almost all children, costs almost $1billion each week, or about 0.4% of GNP. The UK has even more generous transfers and spends about $25 a week on each of about 8 million children – about 1% of GNP. The typical rationale given for these transfers is that they are good for our children and here we investigate the effect of such transfers on household spending patterns. The UK is an excellent laboratory to address this issue because such transfers, known as Child Benefit (CB) have been simple lump sum universal payments for a continuous period of more than 20 years. We do indeed find that CB is spent differently from other income – paradoxically, it appears to be spent disproportionately on adult-assignable goods. In fact we estimate that as much as half of a marginal pound of CB is spent on alcohol. We resolve this puzzle by showing that the effect is confined to unanticipated variation in CB so we infer that parents are sufficiently altruistic towards their children that they completely insure them against shocks.
  • Publication
    Dispersion in the economic return to schooling
    (University College Dublin. Institute for the Study of Social Change (Geary Institute), 2002-10-18) ; ;
    We 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.
  • Publication
    Does education raise productivity, or just reflect it?
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2003-01) ; ; ;
    It is clear that education has an important effect on wages paid in the labour market However it not clear whether this is due to the role that education plays in raising the productivity of workers (the human capital explanation) or whether education simply reflects the ability of the worker (through a signalling role). In this paper we describe and implement, using a variety of UK datasets, a number of tests from the existing literature for discriminating between the two explanations. We find little support for signalling ideas in these tests. However, we have severe reservations about these results because our doubts about the power of these tests and the appropriateness of the data. We propose an alternative test, based on the response of some individuals to a change in education incentives offered to other individuals caused by the changes in the minimum school leaving age in the seventies. Using this idea we find that data in the UK appears to strongly support the human capital explanation.
  • Publication
    Who really wants to be a millionaire? Estimates of risk aversion from gameshow data
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2006-05-10) ; ;
    This paper analyses the behaviour of TV gameshow contestants to estimate risk aversion. We are able to show that the gameshow participants are broadly representative of the population as a whole. The gameshow has a number of features that makes it well suited for our analysis: the format is extremely straightforward, it involves no strategic decisionmaking, we have a large number of observations, and the prizes are cash and paid immediately, and cover a large range – from £100 up to £1 million. Even though the CRRA model is extremely restrictive we find that a coefficient or relative risk aversion which is close to unity fits the data across a wide range of wealth remarkably well
  • Publication
    Mums and their sons; dads and their daughters : panel data evidence of parental altruism across 14 EU countries
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2007-06-12) ; ;
    We study how fathers’ and mothers’ income satisfaction correlate with the income satisfaction of their sons and daughters, as well as with other economic and sociodemographic variables. We estimate these correlations using data on parents and children in households surveyed in the eight waves of the European Community Household Panel-ECHP (1994-2001) for 14 EU countries. To assess the robustness of simple correlations to we exploit siblings in the Panel and we investigate the sensitivity of the estimates to the inclusion of other control variables. We also adopt a multi-level random effects ordered probit specification that exploits step-parents in the data to allow us to decompose nature from nurture effects. Our headline results suggest strong altruism effects, but these estimated effects differ across countries, differ between mothers and fathers, and are different between sons and daughters.
  • Publication
    There’s no such thing as a free lunch : altruistic parents and the response of household food expenditures to nutrition program reforms
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2007-06-12) ;
    Many countries provide extensive in-kind public transfers for specific needs of particular client groups such as the elderly, the disabled, and children. However, this may crowd out private expenditures on the goods in question and, to some extent, undermine the case for not simply giving cash. If the target group belongs to a larger household the mechanism behind this crowding out could be either altruism or agency. This paper is concerned with three nutrition programmes for children in UK households: free lunch at school for children from poor households; free milk to poor households with pre-school children; and free milk at day-care for pre-school children in attendance regardless of parental income. We exploit a reform that removed eligibility to the first two programs from working poor households. We find significant crowding-out of private food expenditures – a free school lunch reduces food expenditure by around 15% of the purchase price of the lunch, and a free pint of milk reduces milk expenditure by about 80% of the market price. We conclude that this is due to altruism rather than agency problems because milk expenditure crowd-out is similar across milk programs that have different delivery mechanisms.
  • Publication
    The college wage premium, overeducation, and the expansion of higher education in the UK
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2007-06-12) ;
    This paper provides findings from the UK Labour Force Surveys from 1993 to 2003 on the financial private returns to a degree – the "college premium". The data covers a decade when the university participation rate doubled – yet we find no significant1 evidence that the mean return to a degree dropped in response to this large increase in the flow of graduates. However, we do find quite large falls in returns when we compare the cohorts that went to university before and after the recent rapid expansion of HE. The evidence is consistent with the notion that new graduates are a close substitute for recent graduates but poor substitutes for older graduates. There appears to have been a very recent increase in the number of graduates getting "non-graduate" jobs but, conditional on getting a graduate job the returns seem stable. Our results are consistent across almost all degree subjects – the exception being maths and engineering where we find that, especially for women, there is a large increase in the proportion with maths and engineering degrees getting graduate jobs and that, conditional on this, the return is rising.