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Does geography matter? an empirical investigation into neighbourhood, peer effects and electricity consumption

Weinhardt, Felix Julian (2012) Does geography matter? an empirical investigation into neighbourhood, peer effects and electricity consumption. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis consists of four distinct projects which sit at the crossroad between Labour, Education and Environmental Economics. The underlying and unifying theme is the examination of social and geographical inequalities using applied econometrics. In the first project, I estimate the effect of moving into a deprived high-density social housing neighbourhood on the educational attainments of teenagers in England. I exploit the timing of moving, which can be taken as exogenous because of long waiting lists for social housing in high-demand areas, to avoid the usual sorting problems. Using this strategy, I find no evidence for negative effects. The second project investigates the effect of neighbours' characteristics and prior achievements on teenagers' educational outcomes. The study relies on mover-induced variation in neighbourhood quality, whilst controlling for general gentrification trends and other unobservables. The results provide little evidence for significant effects on pupil test score progression. The third project looks at the size, significance and heterogeneity of ability peer effects in secondary schools in England. The methodological innovation is to identify ability peer effects using within-pupil-across-subject variation in students' test scores and peer prior achievements. The chapter shows that it is the low- and high-achievers, who account for most or all of the effect of average peer quality on the educational outcomes of other pupils and that this effect varies across genders. The final project presents -to the best of my knowledge- the first nationwide empirical assessment of residential electricity use in response to the timing of daylight for the US. Employing Geographical Information Systems (GIS), I calculate the solar times of sunrise and sunset for all locations in mainland US and show that two distinct sources of geographical variation can be used to estimate county-level responses in residential electricity consumption. Using both approaches I find that early sunrise is associated with lower residential electricity use in the North, but higher consumption in the South. This is a novel finding with potentially significant policy implications and I offer some suggestions about how future research should examine the behavioural channels that could cause these results.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Felix Julian Weinhardt
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Silva, Olmo

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