Essays on Economics of Education: Family Characteristics, Family Dynamics and Family-School Interactions
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The thesis consists of four essays discussing topics within economics of education. The main emphasis is on the influence of family characteristics and within-family dynamics on school outcomes of young Norwegian students. The first essay discusses impacts of experiencing a childhood family dissolution on school performance. A negative and statistically significant effect of family dissolution is found. Estimating separate effects of the changes in family structure before, during and after the divorce suggest that the total effect is driven mainly by the pre-divorce period. The following two essays are on the influence of sibship characteristics. The first of these, gives an introduction to the topic of birth order effects and provides estimates of such effects from a sample of Norwegian students. A statistically significant negative effect of birth order is found, similar in size to effects estimated in previous studies. The following essay presents an analysis of the impact of sibling birth intervals on birth order effects and school performance. The findings suggest that birth order effects vary with sibship density. Finally, the fourth essay widens the scope of the thesis by also considering school inputs in education production and between-actor interactions, while making use of insights from the birth order literature. The setting studied is parental responses to school quality. One theory is that parents, when faced with poor school quality, compensate by increasing their own effort. If such behavior is common, estimated measures of school quality might be biased. Existing research suggest that such strategies are more common among parents of first-born children, compared with parents of only children and later-born children. The analysis presented in the essay provide confirmative evidence.