Essays in applied econometrics

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Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
Date created
Amid growing evidence of the importance of non-cognitive skills for both cognitive skill development and long-term outcomes, understanding the effect of education policies on non-cognitive skill formation is of increasing interest. The first two chapters of this thesis studies the effect of two school interventions on student behavior.The first paper of this Thesis (Chapter 1) provides the first evidence of the effect of multigrade classes on non-cognitive skills. I exploit strictly enforced class size caps accompanied by centralized funding rules to generate IV estimates of this effect using custom survey data administered to over 15000 parents of Kindergarten and Grade 1 students linked to publicly available administrative data on multigrade classes. I find that placing children in multigrade classes causes significantly more peer relationship problems and hyperactivity compared to single grade classrooms.The second paper of this Thesis (Chapter 2) my coauthors and I exploit the staggered rollout of universal full-day Kindergarten (FDK) to estimate its effects on children’s behavior. Our research design identifies these effects by comparing across-cohort changes in outcomes among early versus late adopting schools. We find little effect of FDK on child behavior or parents’ mental health, and an increase in hours worked by parents who are employedpart-time. These results hold across a range of child and family characteristics, with one exception. In families who do not speak English at home, FDK reduces child hyperactivity and peer relationship problems, improves parents’ mental health and increases employment and hours.The last paper of this Thesis (Chapter 3) was triggered by a heated debate in the Iranian parliament over the effectiveness of the "1993 Population Control Law". There has been a long debate among economists and policy makers over the effectiveness of population planning programs. The estimated program effects in the literature vary substantially. One such program is the Iranian 1993 Population Control Law that withdrew paid maternity leave and social welfare subsidies in the case of children of fourth and higher parities. My coauthor and I use data from publicly available sample 2006 census data in Iran and the annual Household Expenditure and Income Surveys (HEIS: 1988-2005) to estimate the effect of this policy on fertility outcomes. Our difference in difference method compares the change in probability of having birth in families with fewer than three children prior to the legislation to the change in probability of having birth of families with three or more children. We find that the legislation had a modest effect of 8 to 13 percent on decreasing the probability of a fourth or higher birth. The law has the highest impact after four years of implementation and after that effect size gradually goes away.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Friesen, Jane
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