Now showing 1 - 10 of 70
  • Publication
    Money, mentoring and making friends : the impact of a multidimensional access program on student performance
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2010-04-07) ; ; ;
    There is a well established socioeconomic gradient in educational attainment, despite much effort in recent decades to address this inequality. This study evaluates a university access program that provides financial, academic and social support to low socioeconomic status (SES) students using a natural experiment which exploits the time variation in the expansion of the program across schools. The program has parallels with US affirmative actions programs, although preferential treatment is based on SES rather than ethnicity. Evaluating the effectiveness of programs targeting disadvantaged students in Ireland is particularly salient given the high rate of return to education and the lack of intergenerational mobility in educational attainment. Overall, we identify positive treatment effects on first year exam performance, progression to second year and final year graduation rates, with the impact often stronger for higher ability students. We find similar patterns of results for students that entered through the regular system and the ‘affirmative action’ group i.e. the students that entered with lower high school grades. The program affects the performance of both male and female students, albeit in different ways. This study suggests that access programs can be an effective means of improving academic outcomes for socio-economically disadvantaged students.
      486
  • Publication
    The causal effect of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive development : a quasi-experimental design
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2010-03) ;
    Objective: To estimate the causal effect of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive skills as measured at ages 3, 5, 7 and 11. Design: An instrumental variable (IV) strategy which provides a correction method for dealing with selection bias. Standard linear regression models are compared to two-stage least squares models to test for the presence of endogeneity. The consistency of the results across multiple sources is also tested using data from two prospective longitudinal studies collected 40-years apart. Setting: The 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) and the 2000 UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). Participants: Data on 11,792 (age 3) and 9117 (age 5) children in MCS and 4923 (age 7 and 11) children in NCDS. Main outcome measures: Cognitive ability is measured by the Bracken School Readiness Assessment (age 3); Foundation Stage Profile (age 5); and tests of general ability including mathematics, comprehension, verbal and non-verbal skills (ages 7 and 11). Results: The duration of breastfeeding has a small, but significant, effect on children’s cognitive skills in the linear regression models at ages 3, 5, 7 and 11, but no effect in the IV models. However, in all cases, the hypothesis that breastfeeding is endogenous is rejected, indicating that the results of the linear regressions are valid. Conclusion: The relationship between breastfeeding and cognitive ability is not driven by selection bias once a rich set of confounders are included. IV methods can therefore be used to test for the presence of selection bias and are a useful alternative for identifying causal relationships when randomised control trials are not feasible. Showing that the size of the effect is similar for two cohorts born over 40 years apart, and using different measures of ability, are further indications that the relationship between breastfeeding and cognitive ability is not a statistical artefact.
      1153
  • Publication
    The economic consequences of being left-handed : some sinister results
    (University College Dublin; Institute for the Study of Social Change (Geary Institute), 2004) ;
    This paper provides the first estimates of the effects of handedness on hourly earnings. Augmenting a conventional earnings equation with an indicator of left handedness shows there is a well determined positive effect on male earnings with non-manual workers enjoying a slightly larger premium. These results are inconsistent with the view that lefthanders in general are in some sense handicapped either innately or through experiencing a world geared towards right-handers. It is consistent with some psychological evidence which suggests that lefthanders have particular talents such as enhanced creativity. The results for females however reveal the opposite, left-handed females are paid significantly less.
      654
  • Publication
    New methods for comparing literacy across populations : insights from the measurement of poverty
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2000-04)
    This paper analyses levels of low literacy across twelve countries using the International Adult Literacy Survey. We go beyond existing work that only looks at the proportions below certain critical levels of literacy. Using methods developed for the measurement of poverty we calculate measures of literacy that are sensitive to the distribution of literacy within those defined as illiterate. This reveals a different pattern of the extent of literacy problems across countries and within some populations. These measures should be useful to policy makers who need to allocate resources to alleviate low literacy and numeracy.
      381
  • Publication
    Some further evidence against the Trivers Willard hypothesis in homo sapiens
    (University College Dublin. Geary Institute, 2008-08-01)
    The Trivers Willard hypothesis – that higher maternal quality is associated with a higher sex ratio – is tested using a large population survey from 12 European countries. Several outcomes are studied, the proportion of children born who are male and the sex of the first three children. The principal explanatory variables of interest are mother’s education, marital status and age at birth. Little evidence, if any, of such a relationship is found.
      307
  • Publication
    Born to be wild? The effect of birth order, families and schools on truancy (Version 4.0)
    (University College Dublin. Institute for the Study of Social Change (Geary Institute), 2004-09-13)
    This paper models the probability of 15-year-old children missing school or being late. The paper sets out to uncover the effects of family background and birth order on attendance. Looking at birth order effects allows one to test Sulloway’s “Born to Rebel” hypothesis that older siblings are more compliant than their younger siblings. Using data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for Germany, Korea, Ireland, Mexico, Russia and the United States, the evidence here provides little support for the hypothesis in general. The paper finds, somewhat surprisingly, that the socio-economic background of the teenagers has very little effect either. Those from single parent households are however more likely to have poor attendance. However students who feel positively about their teachers are less likely to have bad attendance. Similarly where students feel there is a good disciplinary climate in the class they are also less likely to have poor attendance. In some cases private schools are associated with better attendance.
      262
  • Publication
    Upper Bounds on Risk Aversion under Mean-variance Utility
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2019-02)
    Based on a simple prior, this note derives upper bounds for the coefficient of absolute & relative risk aversion if utility can be written as depending linearly on the mean and variance of income.
      448
  • Publication
    Born to be wild? The effect of birth order, families and schools on truancy (Version 3.2)
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2004-07)
    This paper models the probability of 15-year-old children missing school or being late. The paper sets out to uncover the effects of family background and birth order on attendance. Looking at birth order effects allows one to test Sulloway’s “Born to Rebel” hypothesis that older siblings are more compliant than their younger siblings. Using data from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for Germany, Korea, Ireland, Mexico, Russia and the United States, the evidence here provides little support for the hypothesis in general. The paper finds, somewhat surprisingly, that the socio-economic background of the teenagers has very little effect either. Those from single parent households are however more likely to have poor attendance. However their experience of -or attitude- to school has significant effects as has class size, which is negatively associated with better attendance. This paper forms part of the Policy Evaluation Program at ISSC.
      324
  • Publication
    Very simple marginal effects in some discrete choice models
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2009-07)
    I show a simple back-of-the-envelope method for calculating marginal effects in binary choice and count data models. The approach suggested here focuses attention on marginal effects at different points in the distribution of the dependent variable rather than representative points in the joint distribution of the explanatory variables. For binary models, if the mean of the dependent variable is between 0.4 and 0.6 then dividing the logit coefficient by 4 or multiplying the probit coefficient by 0.4 should be moderately accurate.
      161
  • Publication
    The impacts of education and training on the labour market experiences of young adults
    (Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2000-04-20) ;
    This paper uses pooled cross-section data on recent school leavers in Ireland to model the determinants of labour market status and wages for young adults. Firstly we use a multinomial logit model to analyze whether individuals exit school to employment, unemployment or higher education. Family background is an important predictor for participation in higher education reflecting the degree of rationing in the system. The level of educational attainment influences the probability of entering higher education or employment. The estimates for earnings functions show large differences across gender with males being rewarded significantly higher. The returns to training are positive though biased upwards by sample selection particularly for females.
      814