Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Three Essays on Adverse Events and Student Outcomes

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posted on 2021-12-09, 07:07 authored by Olivia Wills

This dissertation contains three essays on the impact of unexpected adverse events on student outcomes. All three attempt to identify causal inference using plausibly exogenous shocks and econometric tools, applied to rich administrative data.  In Chapter 2, I present evidence of the causal effects of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake on tertiary enrolment and completion. Using the shock of the 2011 earthquake on high school students in the Canterbury region, I estimate the effect of the earthquake on a range of outcomes including tertiary enrolment, degree completion and wages. I find the earthquake causes a substantial increase in tertiary enrolment, particularly for low ability high school leavers from damaged schools. However, I find no evidence that low ability students induced by the earthquake complete a degree on time.  In Chapter 3, I identify the impact of repeat disaster exposure on university performance, by comparing outcomes for students who experience their first earthquake while in university, to outcomes for students with prior earthquake exposure. Using a triple-differences estimation strategy with individual-by-year fixed effects, I identify a precise null effect, suggesting that previous experience of earthquakes is not predictive of response to an additional shock two years later.  The final chapter investigates the impact of injuries sustained in university on academic performance and wages, using administrative data including no-fault insurance claims, emergency department attendance and hospital admissions, linked with tertiary enrolment. I find injuries, including minor injuries, have a negative effect on re-enrolment, degree completion and grades in university.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Economics of Disasters

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Economics and Finance


Cuffe, Harold; Noy, Ilan