About me


Just accepted for publication Oxford Economics Papers
University education and non-cognitive skill development
Abstract: We examine the effect of university education on students' non-cognitive skills (NCS) using high-quality Australian longitudinal data. To isolate the skill-building effects of tertiary education, we follow the education decisions and NCS - proxied by the Big Five personality traits - of 575 adolescents over eight years. Estimating a standard skill production function, we demonstrate a robust positive relationship between university education and extraversion, and agreeableness for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The effects are likely to operate through exposure to university life rather than through degree-specific curricula or university-specific teaching quality. As extraversion and agreeableness are associated with socially-beneficial behaviors, we propose that university education may have important non-market returns.


I am an Associate Professor (with tenure) in the School of Economics at the University of Sydney. My research interest is the Economics of Human Development. Most of my current projects explore the evolution of skills, preferences, and health over the lifecourse and the role that parents, public policy, and the medical care sector play in determining these skills. I am involved in several linked administrative data projects in Australia financed through the National Health and Medical Research Council, evaluating, among others, the impact of early-life medical care, (poor) parenting or parenting interventions, and welfare reforms on children's skill development. My work has been published in the Economic Journal, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Applied Econometrics, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, and Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, among others. As of August 2017, I am an Associate Editor of the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

I am a University of Sydney SOAR Fellow and an ARC Discovery Early Career FellowPreviously, I held positions at Victoria University of Wellington and University of Melbourne, and I am a Visiting Scholar at The University of Chicago and a Research Fellow at the IZA Bonn. You can access all my IZA Discussion Papers hereHere is a link to my CV, email;Google Scholar Citations;Publications and working papers