Empirical essays on the economics of education and pay -PhD thesis-
The Effect of Free Pre-school Education on Children’s Subsequent Academic Performance: Empirical Evidence from England addresses the question of whether starting formal education part-time at age three has a positive effect on children’s academic attainment when they reach age 7 and whether this depends on the sector providing the early education. Using a panel of English Local Education Authorities, I initially utilise the fact that mandatory provision of free early education for 3-year olds was introduced at different times according to the deprivation of the LEA and then estimate effects separately for more and less deprived LEAs. Exploiting the time dimension of the panel dataset, I am able to control for time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity at the LEA level that may confound estimates from other British cohort studies which rely primarily on cross-sectional variation. I find that early education in public sector nursery and primary schools in the more deprived LEAs has a small positive effect on attainment in reading and writing. These findings suggest that state maintained nursery settings are more effective than private sector providers of early education, especially in more deprived LEAs.
The Causal Effect of Education on Wages Revisited: in this chapter I estimate the causal effect of education on wages comparing estimates derived using variations in schooling associated with (a) early smoking behaviour; and (b) the raising of the minimum school leaving age. My work is motivated by the concern that what is sometimes claimed as the return to education is only the return for a specific group and this might be rather different to the average return to education in the population. Each of my instruments estimates a ‘local average treatment effect’ and I analyse the extent to which these differ and which is more appropriate for drawing conclusions about the return to education in Britain. I implement each instrument on the same data from the British Household Panel Survey, and use the over-identification to test the validity of my instruments.
The Lifetime Public Premium in Earnings: The View from Europe: using data from the European Community Household Panel Survey we evaluate the difference in lifetime value of employment in the public and private sector, taking into account differences in average earnings, earnings disposition and earnings persistence. In addition to considering the effect of observed individual characteristics, such as education and labour market experience, the estimation strategy allows for unobserved heterogeneity - for example in terms of “public service motivation” - to influence the dynamics of individuals’ employment and earnings patterns. The common format of the ECHP permits the analysis to be carried out for six different European countries - Germany, The Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. This is the first time this modelling strategy has been applied to European data.
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