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Title: Can education policy make children happier? : a comparative study in 33 countries
Author: Marquez Merino, Jose Manuel
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2020
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There is an increasing academic and policy interest in subjective well-being (SWB). However, the questions of whether and how public policy can promote children’s SWB remain understudied. This thesis aims to reduce this gap by studying the association between education policy and students’ SWB, with a focus on life satisfaction (LS). To quantitatively study this question, this thesis analyses data on 15-year-old students in 33 countries that participated in the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study. The analysis draws on Bronfenbrenner’s ecological model of child development and it is conducted by using a range of advanced quantitative methods, mainly multilevel regression. This thesis presents analysis demonstrating an association between several education policy-relevant factors and students ́ LS, which is particularly prominent –and observed in almost all countries- for schoolwork-related anxiety, bullying and parents’ emotional support in relation to school. Results also indicate that schools may play an important role in shaping students’ LS. This is supported by evidence that these associations tend to vary by school, by evidence on the existence of school effects in almost all countries, and by the finding that a proportion - substantial in some countries- of the variation in students’ LS is explained by differences between schools. Moreover, findings suggest that school type and school peers’ characteristics can be important to students’ LS too. In addition, in many countries, the links between schools and education policy and students’ LS differ for girls and boys and for students of different socio-economic status. Finally, in all the analyses described above, there are significant differences across countries. Overall, this thesis makes key contributions to our understanding of whether and how children ́s SWB can be influenced by schools and education policy, supporting calls that education policy should also be assessed in terms of its impact in children ́s SWB.
Supervisor: Homer, Matt ; Main, Gill Sponsor: ESRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available