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Essays in the economics of education: graduate specialisation, training and labour market outcomes in the context of disparities in local economic performance in the UK

Wales, Philip David (2012) Essays in the economics of education: graduate specialisation, training and labour market outcomes in the context of disparities in local economic performance in the UK. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

Spatial disparities in economic performance are amongst the most pervasive and persistent characteristics of modern economies. In the UK and across the EU, minimising regional inequalities is an objective of government policy. Yet analysis of how local differences in unemployment, earnings and industrial structure affect individual agents is not straightforward. Individual heterogeneity and sorting behaviour make separating the effects of agent attributes and regional characteristics difficult – a problem which is only compounded by the potential impact of unobserved individual heterogeneity. This thesis seeks to disentangle the effects of agent attributes – both observed and unobserved – from the effects of local labour markets in three individual level decisions made by graduates in the UK. The chapters examine (a) how agents choose which degree subject to study at university, (b) the determinants of postgraduate participation and (c) the likelihood of a graduate finding employment after completion. In this way, this thesis examines micro-level choices which affect the aggregate supply of skilled labour in the UK. The methodology I adopt permits conclusions to be drawn about how individual behaviour varies across observably different groups and offers insights into how local economic performance can shape the supply of skilled labour. I conclude that while agent attributes – including gender, ethnicity and prior academic attainment – are the most important determinants of an individual’s academic choices, economic circumstances have a significant, if smaller role to play. The results have several public policy implications, ranging from the impact of educational inequalities to the funding arrangements for postgraduate study in the UK.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Philip David Wales
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Gibbons, Steve and Silva, Olmo
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/439

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