Essays on the Economics of Education, Fertility and Mental Health

Tiina Kuuppelomäki

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles


This thesis comprises of an introductory chapter and four essays on the field of economics of education. The first two study the non-pecuniary effects of secondary education, while the latter two focus on the more traditional labour market and educational outcomes in the context of tertiary education. All of the essays are empirical in nature and use regression discontinuity design (RDD) for causal inference.

The first essay investigates whether access to upper secondary education affects fertility and other family formation outcomes, by taking advantage of the upper secondary education admission cutoffs. The study focuses on fresh comprehensive schooling graduates and finds that upper secondary education did not, on average, affect cumulative fertility or other family formation outcomes. However, the annual estimates suggest that admission had a positive effect on women’s likelihood to marry and have a highly educated spouse at the end of the study period. I also find evidence of an increase in teenage childbearing for those eligible for secondary education, which likely reflects the postponement effect of graduation, as many first-time rejects gain admission in later years and thus graduate later.

The second essay also uses the upper secondary education admission cutoffs, but this time to study whether upper secondary school selectivity affected students’ mental health. The findings of this essay point toward school selectivity having no consistent effects on individuals’ short-term or long-term mental health, although some positive effects were found during the time of matriculation examinations.

The third and fourth essays shift the focus on university education, specifically into the technical field of study. The third essay focuses on comparing two different student selection methods in the context of early 21st century Finland and studies how they succeed in admitting talented and motivated students. RDD is also used to estimate whether small shifts in the quotas reserved for different selection groups could have improved the graduation rates and or increased the applicants earned income. Although we find that those admitted through the direct admission stage perform slightly better in their studies, it is unlikely that expanding this stage would be beneficial for a few reasons: 1) the stage has a lower probability of enrolling for university engineering studies and, thus has a higher risk of program undersubscription,
2) among students admitted by exam, the exam score is more strongly associated with higher graduation probability and later earnings than the direct admission score, and
3) as indicated by our quasi-experimental estimates, a small increase in the share of applicants admitted directly would likely not have increased graduation rates or earnings.

The final essay investigates whether admission to the most selective technical university affected applicants’ labour market outcomes when the next best alternative was another technical university. According to the results, there appear to be no significant overall labour market effects, although the heterogeneity estimates point towards significant gains for those from low-educated families as well as for those coming from outside the elite school’s region (Uusimaa).
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTampere
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-2820-7
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (articles)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations - Tampereen yliopiston väitöskirjat
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028


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