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Opportunity from disaster: Evidence of the Christchurch earthquake’s effects on high schoolers’ post-graduation outcomes

Harold E Cuffe and Olivia Wills

No 7891, Working Paper Series from Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance

Abstract: We estimate the causal effects of a large unanticipated natural disaster on high schoolers’ university enrolment decisions and subsequent medium-term labour market outcomes. Using national administrative data after a destructive earthquake in New Zealand, we estimate that the disaster raises tertiary education enrolment of recent high school graduates by 6.1 percentage points. The effects are most pronounced for males, students who are academically weak relative to their peers, and students from schools directly damaged by the disaster. As relatively low ability males are overrepresented in sectors of the labour market helped by the earthquake, greater demand for university may stem from permanent changes in deeper behavioural parameters such as risk aversion or time preference, rather than as a coping response to poor economic opportunities.

Keywords: Natural disasters; New Zealand; Christchurch; Tertiary education; Earthquakes; Causal effects; Labour market; High School students (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-ure
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