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  • 2022mckendrickphd

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Essays in the Economics of Education and Identity

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date04/2022
Number of pages155
Awarding Institution
Award date27/04/2022
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis covers three research topics, each separate chapter a distinct entity designed to be submitted to (and hopefully published in) a good quality journal. Both chapters 1 and 2 make use of the Next Steps cohort study with linked administrative data. The first chapter examines the impact of faithfulness, a form of intrinsic religiosity, on a range of educational and other outcomes. Once the Oster (2019) sensitivity test is applied, faithfulness is robustly and positively associated with educational attainment at GCSE and with Christian affiliation at age 25 but with no other outcomes. Faith schooling does not have any robust impacts other than a positive association with future Christian affiliation. The popular perception that faith schools are important for outcomes, therefore, appears to be misplaced – faith matters more. The second chapter examines the impact of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) on a range of outcomes covering educational attainment, risky behaviours, and employment. Positive impacts are found on retention in further education and on university attendance; negative effects are found on the chance of being on an insecure employment contract at age 25. These estimates are causal under assumptions of unconfoundedness as they are estimated using Inverse Probability Weighting Regression Adjustment (IPWRA). Treatment heterogeneity is analysed using a machine learning approach called Causal Forests, with some interesting dimensions of heterogeneity identified. Chapter 3 uses the secure access version of the Labour Force Survey to analyse the effect of education on national identity. Education is instrumented using the Raising of the School Leaving Age (RoSLA) reform. Although OLS results suggest positive and significant effects on national identity, IV estimates are mixed, with signs turning negative and significance disappearing on one of the two outcomes, despite the instrument being very strong. Each of these topics has meaningful policy implications.