I am a Lecturer Above the Bar (Assistant Professor) in Economics at the University of Galway. My research interests lie in applied microeconomics, particularly in labour and development economics. 

Prior to joining the University of Galway, I completed my PhD at the Economics Department at Lund University, where I am also affiliated with the Centre for Economic Demography. After my PhD studies, I was a visiting researcher at the FAIR Centre, Norwegian School of Economics (NHH). Previously, I was a Research Assistant at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in Dublin. 

My research interests lie in applied microeconomics, primarily in labour and development economics, with a particular focus on the drivers of and returns to human capital formation.

You can find a copy of my CV here

My Research

Sibling Gender, Inheritance Customs and Educational Attainment: Evidence from Matrilineal and Patrilineal Societies

[JMP 2021/22, Submitted]

Using data from 27 sub-Saharan African countries, I identify the causal effect of sibling gender on education and how it varies according to inheritance customs. Boys who inherit their father's property experience no effect of sibling gender, while boys who do not inherit experience a significant negative effect of having a brother. Having a brother has a small negative effect on the education of girls, regardless of inheritance customs. The effect of sibling gender converges after the introduction of laws guaranteeing that children inherit from their parents, suggesting that parents substitute between transferring inheritance and investing in their children’s education. 

Working Paper

Coverage: Broadstreet, GEEZ, LUSEM Spotlight, Center for Global Development

New Evidence on the Importance of Instruction Time for Student Achievement on International Assessments

with Jan Bietenbeck

Journal of Applied Econometrics (Link)

We re-examine the importance of instruction time for student achievement on international assessments. We successfully replicate the positive effect of weekly instruction time in the seminal paper by Lavy (Economic Journal, 125, F397-F424) in a narrow sense. Extending the analysis to other international assessments, we find effects that are consistently smaller in magnitude. We provide evidence that this discrepancy might be partly due to a different way of measuring instruction time in the data used in the original paper. Our results suggest that differences in instruction time are less important than previously thought for explaining international gaps in student achievement.

The Long-Term Consequences of More Informative Grading

with Jonas Lundstedt

R&R at Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization

We study the effect of more informative grading on student performance. Using data on the population of Swedish school children, we exploit a reform which introduced a more granular grading scale and thus provided students with more informative feedback on their performance. Using a difference-in-discontinuity research design, we find that students exposed to more informative grading were less likely to graduate from high school, from an academic high school track and from STEM high school tracks, in addition to reduced STEM enrolment at university. These results appear to be driven by a negative shock to students' self-belief and increased stress.

Working Paper

Coverage: Läraren (in Swedish), LUSEM Spotlight

The intergenerational persistence of intimate partner violence

Reject & Resubmit at Economic Journal

This study examines the intergenerational persistence of intimate partner violence. Using Demographic and Health Survey data from 32 sub-Saharan African countries, I quantify the association between mothers and daughters in experiencing intimate partner violence. Women whose mothers were victims are over 65\% more likely to experience emotional, physical or sexual violence perpetrated by an intimate partner. Daughters of victims marry men who hold more favourable attitudes toward violence against wives, and husband's attitudes are a significant predictor of incidence. Attitudes surrounding the acceptance of intimate partner violence are transmitted from mother to daughter and from father to son.

[new draft coming soon]

Work in Progress:

The Effect of University Grade Inflation on Graduate Outcomes, with Judith Delaney and Therese Nilsson

Endowments at Birth and Parental Investments in Children: The Role of Cultural Institutions, with Devon Spika

I am also participating in the Many-Economists Project

 Contact Info:

Office: Room 212, Cairnes Building, University of Galway

Postal address: Discipline of Economics, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, University of Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland 

email: matthew.collins[at]universityofgalway.ie

twitter / X: @mtthwcllns