Empirical Essays in Family Economics

Tanya Wilson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis addresses questions in the field of Family Economics regarding the effect of education on teenage motherhood and choice of spouse, and the influence of local labour market conditions on domestic violence.

The first part of the thesis presents evidence regarding the effect of education policy on teenage fertility. Chapter 1 analyses the impact of an exogenous increase to education, induced by a legislative change to the minimal schooling requirement, on the propensity for early motherhood. The findings indicate strong evidence that the schooling reform had a substantial downwards impact on adolescent fertility, which persisted beyond the new compulsory school leaving age. The second chapter presents an evaluation of the Education Maintenance Allowance, a conditional cash transfer program implemented to increase the post-compulsory education participation rates of young people from disadvantaged families. The results reveal that the programme was successful at increasing participation rates, with a stronger response observed for teenage boys. This increase in participation had a significant impact on teenage motherhood, driven equally by a decline in the number of conceptions and an increase in the abortion rate. Weaker, but suggestive evidence is found that the programme mitigated youth crime.

The second part of the thesis addresses marriage and partnership questions. The third chapter investigates the impact of an education reform which induced a cohort discontinuity in the level of qualifications received by individuals, and finds that cohorts in the neighbourhood of the reform threshold cannot achieve typical matching patterns. Specifically, spouses choose smaller age gaps and accept differently qualified partners. The fourth and final chapter examines how changes in unemployment affect the incidence of domestic abuse. Combining data on individual experience of intimate partner violence with locally disaggregated labour market data, the analysis shows that a woman’s propensity to experience partner abuse decreases with male unemployment, but increases with female unemployment.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Anderberg, Dan, Supervisor
  • Chevalier, Arnaud, Advisor
Award date1 Apr 2015
Publication statusUnpublished - 2015


  • Family Economics
  • Teenage Fertility
  • Domestic Violence
  • Assortative Mating
  • Compulsory Schooling
  • Education Maintenance Allowance

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