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Essays on the economics of human capital

Giannola, Michele; (2021) Essays on the economics of human capital. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis studies the process of human capital formation in the childhood years, focusing on the role that families, institutions and public interventions can play in this process. One chapter analyses the details of the process of child development, focusing on the evolution of and interaction between health, cognitive and socio-emotional skills. We find that skills are particularly malleable and parental investments highly productive in the early years. Investments depend strongly on household resources, and this is consistent with wealth gradients in child development. We also show that early health has long-term impacts on cognitive development. A second chapter combines a model of household behaviour with a lab-in-the-field experiment to study intra-household inequality in child human capital outcomes. The model highlights the key role that educational investments made by parents in their children can have to explain inequality, and how these investments depend on parental preferences, beliefs and constraints. To mitigate the identification problem posed by observational data, I collect original data on subjective expectations and stated choices through a lab-in-the-field experiment. I find that parents perceive child ability and investments to be complements. As parents have a low aversion to inequality in child outcomes, they reinforce initial differences across children. Household constraints are also important to explain choices. The last chapter of the thesis studies peer effects in academic achievement. Using the randomized evaluation of a remedying education intervention targeting low-achieving students within a class, we show that the test scores of their higher achieving classmates increased compared to similar children in control schools. We interpret this effect through the lens of a linear-in-means model of peer effects. The findings suggest that policies aimed at improving the bottom of the achievement distribution can generate social-multiplier effects benefiting all.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Essays on the economics of human capital
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Economics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129079
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