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Personal profile

Research interests

I am a Reader in Public Policy at the Institute for Policy Research, where I lead the programme of research on widening participation in higher education. Current projects examine the earnings returns to undergraduate and post-graduate degrees, the role of further education in progression to higher education and the impact of early health on later educational and labour market outcomes. I also continue to research the returns to education more broadly having published a number of papers examining the causal effects of education on earnings, employment, health, and the education of the next generation.

I have been at the University of Bath since 2012, first as a Prize (Research) Fellow and then a lecturer before moving into my current role at the IPR in 2017. Prior to joining Bath I held positions at University College Dublin and the University of Bristol. I attained my PhD in Economics from the University of Warwick in 2009. 

My research primarily uses microeconometric techniques applied to large-scale survey and administrative datasets to address research questions related to the economics of education - particularly higher education. Currently my main research projects use the Dept. for Education's Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) dataset - which links National Pupil Database, Higher Education Statistics Agency and HMRC data. In other recent or ongoing projects I have used the New Earnings Survey Panel Dataset, the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, UKHLS, BHPS, the ALSPAC cohort data and the UK BioBank. 

I am a Research Fellow at the IZA (Institute of Labor Economics). My full CV can be downloaded here: http://legacy.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/vitae/4324_cv.pdf

Other responsibilities

I am currently on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Social Policy and the Journal of Education and Work

Willing to supervise PhD

I am interested in supervising PhD students from economics/advanced quantitative methods backgrounds who are investigating topics in the economics of education, in particular:

  • Widening participation in higher education
  • Returns to education
  • Social mobility


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Research Output

  • 15 Article
  • 2 Commissioned report
  • 1 Discussion paper

Social Mobility and Higher Education: Are grammar schools the answer?

Dickson, M. & Macmillan, L., 23 Jan 2020, Higher Education Policy Institute Occasional Paper Series.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Open Access

Do selective schooling systems increase inequality?

Burgess, S., Dickson, M. & Macmillan, L., 25 Feb 2019, In : Oxford Economic Papers. p. 1-24 24 p., gpz028.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access

The impact of undergraduate degrees on early-career earnings

Belfield, C., Britton, J., Buscha, F., Dearden, L., Dickson, M., Van der Erve, L., Sibieta, L., Vignoles, A., Walker, I. & Zhu, Y., 30 Nov 2019, Department for Education. 82 p.

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


A Note on the Wage Effects of the 1972 Raising of the School Leaving Age in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Dickson, M. & Buscha, F., 30 Nov 2018, In : Scottish Journal of Political Economy. 65, 5, p. 572-582 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 1 Citation (Scopus)

    How employers can boost social mobility by changing the way they recruit

    Dickson, M., 22 Mar 2018, The Conversation.

    Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

    Open Access