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Current research


The relationship between child outcomes and parental background and incomes, neighbourhoods and schools is part of a collaboration with Paul Bingley (Arhus Business School), which explots a rich Danish data set whose construction has been funded by grants from HM Treasury's Evidence Based Policy Fund and the Danish Research Council.

  • Paul Bingley, Vibeke Myrup Jensen and Ian Walker, " The effects of school resources on participation in post-compulsory education: Danish quasi-experimental evidence, and evidence that controls for family, school and neighbourhood effects" pdf

We are planning further work on the Danish register data that investigates, amongst other things, peer effects, and the effects of parental time allocation decisions.

Related UK work on this project includes some recent research with Colm Harmon (UC Dublin) and Orla Doyle (UC Dublin) on parental background and child health:

  • Orla Doyle, Colm Harmon and Ian Walker "The effect of parental income and education on the health of their children", IZA WP

As part of this project I have been working with Colm Harmon (UC Dublin), Arnaud Chevalier (Kent) and Vincent O'Sullivan (Warwick) on how to estimate the causal effects of parental incomes and education levels on early school leaving of 16-18 year olds in the LFS. See:

  • Arnaud Chevalier, Colm Harmon, Vincent O’Sullivan and Ian Walker, "The Impact of Parental Income and Education on the Schooling of their Children " IFS Working Paper

The implications of teenage motherhood for later outcomes for the mother is also part of this general project - and my work with Greg Kaplan (NYU) and Alissa Goodman (IFS) suggests that the effects may be much less than commonly feared - see

  • Alissa Goodman, Greg Kaplan and Ian Walker, "Understanding the effects of early motherhood in Britain: the effects on mothers", IFS Working Paper.

We are doing further work with Yu Zhu (Kent) on child support and divorce - looking, in particular, at the effects on child well-being. See:

  • Ian Walker and Yu Zhu, "Do fathers really matter? Or is it just their money that matters? Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey", pdf.

See also the background review paper of methods used in research in the relationship between child outcomes and parental education

  • Laura Blow, Alissa Goodman, Greg Kaplan, Ian Walker and Frank Windmeijer" How Important is Income in Determining Children’s Outcomes? – A Methodology Review of Econometric Approaches" pdf.

How households spend welfare transfer payments that are "hypothecated" in some way - eg child benefit and winter fuel allowances - my work with Yu Zhu (Kent) and Laura Blow (IFS) suggests surprisingly, that the marginal propensity to spend Child Benefit on child-related commodities is zero while the marginal propensity to spend it on alcohol may be as high as 0.6 !. However, the interretation of this result is that it implies that parents care so much for the welfae of their children that they effectively insure their children against adverse shocks. For the details, see:

  • Laura Blow, Ian Walker and Yu Zhu, "Who benefits from Child Benefit?" pdf

Related work on the effects of winter fuel allowance is proceeding.


The theoretical role of risk in individual decisions about education, and the implications of this for policy design, with Vincent Hogan (UC Dublin). See:

  • Vincent Hogan and Ian Walker, "Education Choice under Uncertainty and Public Policy", Warwick WP

As part of our work on the Danish register data Paul Bingley (Arhus), Kaare Christensen (Odense) and I have been working on returns to education using a large sample of twins. Our initial work can be found here:

  • Paul Bingley, Kaare Christensen and Ian Walker, "Twin-based Estimates of the Returns to Education: Evidence from the Population of Danish Twins", pdf.

Yu Zhu (Kent) and I are trying to extend our earlier research on education returns over time in LFS to see if the recent expansion in HE has decreased education returns for recent cohorts - the answer seems to be yes. See

  • Ian Walker and Yu Zhu, "The College Wage Premium, Overeducation, and the Expansion of Higher Education in the UK" pdf.


Gauthier Lanot (Keele), Roger Hartley (Manchester) and I have been working on a project with estimating risk-aversion using gameshow data with ESRC support. The project has been collecting data - from the UK, the US and the Malaysian shows. In addition we have data from a questionnaire that we circulated to all of the UK gameshow participants. The data is available here in STATA (v8) format: UK gameshow data, US gameshow data, Malaysian gameshow data, UK questionnaire data. The main aim of the project is to produce estimates of a CRRA EU model of behaviour that takes account of the option value of questions and the endogenous use of lifelines. We have succeeded in doing this and the provisional results obtained are available in

  • R. Hartley, G. Lanot, and I. Walker, "Who Really Wants to be a Millionaire: Estimates of Risk Aversion from Gameshow Data", Warwick WP


I am returning to work more on the economics of lotteries - the ERSC has provided a CASE "+"3 PhD award jointly with the UK lottery regulator.