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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Three essays in the economics of education : evidence from Canadian policies Duhaime-Ross, Alix


This dissertation evaluates the effects of various public policies related to education in Canada. Chapter 2 analyses the long-term effects of mandating immigrant children to attend school in the language of the majority. Using the 1977 introduction of Bill 101 in Quebec, a law that compelled children, with some exceptions, to attend school in French, I identify the impacts of studying in French on first- and second-generation immigrant children in Quebec. I find strong evidence that the law led to a significant increase in immigrants’ propensity to use French at home and at work, in their probability of being employed or in school, being part of the labour force, and choosing to live outside of the Montreal metropolitan area. Chapter 3 tests the empirical predictions of three theoretical saving frameworks in the context of saving for a child’s post-secondary education: the life-cycle saving model, the fixed-goal saving model, and the procrastination saving model. Using regression discontinuity and panel data regression techniques, I evaluate the effects of three Canadian education saving incentive programs on parents’ saving behaviour in Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs). The results indicate that the actions of parents are generally consistent with the procrastination saving model. I estimate that higher matching rates on contributions and lump-sum subsidies increased RESP contributions and savings among lower-income families who applied for the programs. Furthermore, grants conditional on opening an account generally caused all parents to start saving earlier for their child. Chapter 4 evaluates the impacts of education savings in incentivised education savings accounts on children’s overall education savings and their academic performance. To identify these effects, I employ an instrumental variable approach that relies on the structure of Canadian saving incentives offered to parents for contributions to RESPs. I find no effect of the saving incentives on parents’ overall decision to save for their child’s post-secondary education. Among parents who do save, I estimate a small but significant crowding-out effect of RESP savings on education savings in other types of saving vehicles. Finally, I find no evidence of a causal impact of savings in RESPs on children’s performance in school.

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