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Title: Empirical essays on the economics of education
Author: Valbuena , Javier
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis consists of three stand-alone papers which address separate questions regarding the economics of education and formation of human capital. Family Background, Gender and Cohort Effects on Schooling decisions (Chapter 2) In this chapter we use unique retrospective family background data from Wave 13 of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) on different birth cohorts to analyze the relevance of family background, in particular parental education, and gender on differential educational achievement. We find parents' education attainments to be strong predictors of the education of their offspring. In particular, maternal education is the main determinant of postcompulsory educational attainment. Our results are robust to the inclusion of a large set of control variables, including household income. Secondly, we investigate whether the large expansion of the UK educational system during recent decades has concurred with enhanced relative educational opportunities for children of parents with low educational background. The analysis reveals that the relevance of parental education over time becomes stronger in terms of achieving higher educational levels, in particular university degree. However, there are significant dissimilarities with respect to gender differences. Particularly, we observe a positive secular trend in female education attainment associated to maternal education . What Determines Post-Compulsory Educational Choice? Evidence from the longitudinal Study of Young People in England (written with Yu Zhu and William Collier) (Chapter 3) This chapter is concerned with the detenninants of educational choices, including the choice between the academic and vocational pathway, immediately after the completion of compu1sory education. Using a unique dataset which is rich in both family background and , - I attamment in education, we flnd that educational attainments at the end of the compulsory (.schooling stage are powerful predictors for post-compulsory educational choices in England. In particular, the single academic success indicator of achieving the Government's gold standard in GCSE, is able to explain around 30% of the variation in the proportion of young people studying for academic qualifications. In contrast, all family background variables streamlined explain no more than 14% of the variation in the decision to pursue an academic qualification upon completion of compulsory education at age 16. Instrumental-variables estimation which exploits variations in birth weight and school starting age suggest that over half of the least-squares effect of achieving the gold standard in GCSEs on studying for academic qualifications is due to individual heterogeneity (ability bias) or simultaneity bias (reverse causation). Nonetheless, conditional on the young person working towards a higherlevel qualification, we find strong evidence of a highly significant causal effect of achieving the gold standard when choosing between the academic or vocational pathway. A Longitudinal Perspective on Higher Education participation in the UK (Chapter 4) This final chapter is based on the first seven waves of the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England (LSYPE) that allow us to follow a recent cohort of pupils from age 14 through to Higher Education (HE) participation at age 19/20. Therefore, our approach involves using rich individual data that have been linked to school level infonnation and geographic markers to examine some of the factors determining HE participation for individuals who were in Year 11 in 2005106 and who could therefore flC5t enter HE in 2008/2009 . Our results indicate that differences in HE participation (including studying a science degree and attending prestigious universities) between students coming from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds are large and that much of the socia-economic - gap in HE participation rates is driven by particularly low participation rates for students at the bottom of the income distribution. However, when we introduce controls for prior educational attainment, student's expectations towards university, academic results during secondary schooling and type of school attended, these gaps in participation are substantially reduced:-Our analysis suggests that one of the main challenges to widening participation for pupils from poorer socia-economic backgrounds is early policy interventions at, say, age 11 are likely to have an important effect in HE participation. Also, relatively later interventions (at ages 14 to 16) which aim to improve the educational aspirations of teenagers and to target better GCSEs results will further close this gap.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available