Determinants and consequences of educational choices in the UK
In this Thesis we study some aspects related to the determinants and the consequences of acquiring education in the UK. Chapter one outlines the structure of the Thesis. In chapter two we analyse the probability of staying-on at school at age 16 in England and Wales using data from the 1970 British Cohort Study. A primary focus is on the effect of household incorne. The issue of income endogeneity is addressed using instrumental variable techniques. We find a statistically significant, but small, positive effect of income and stronger effects of long-term family characteristics, such as parental education, on the staying-on decision. In chapter three we investigate social class influences on the probability of enrolling in different degree subjects in the UK during the period 1981-1991 using Universities' Statistical Record data. We consider three broad subject groups and estimate a trinomial probit model. Our results show the absence of social class differences in the period under study. Moreover, the analysis turns out to be robust to the use of a finer disaggregation of subjects and of a different econometric model (i. e. a flexible-thresholds ordered probit model). In chapter four we estimate the log-wage premium to a first degree using data from the British Cohort Study 1970. We replicate the analysis in Blundell et at (2000), who used data on the 1958 British birth cohort, and find evidence of declining returns to a first degree for women. We also investigate differences in premia by degree class and degree subject. We find evidence supporting the presence of such differences, although in many cases degree class and subject premia are not very precisely estimated, probably due to small sample size. We also consider the robustness of our results when taking account of the endogeneity of educational outcomes and of the possibility of heterogeneous treatment effect. Chapter five briefly surnmarises the main findings of the Thesis.