Selected Publications

  1. The Effects of Contributory Pension Programs on Old-age Cognitive Performance (with Plamen Nikolov), Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2023.
  2. Remittances and Household Investment Decisions: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa (with Adesola Sunmoni), IZA Journal of Development and Migration, 2022.
  3. Determinants of Health Seeking Behavior for Chronic Non-communicable Diseases and Related Out-of-pocket Expenditure: Results from a Cross-sectional Survey in Northern Bangladesh (with Malabika Sarker, Shaila Nazneen, Fatema Binte Rasul, and Hossain Adib), Journal of Health Population and Nutrition, 2019.

Working Papers

Parental Health Shocks and Child Health in Bangladesh (with Shaila Nazneen) [R&R] [Conference Presentation: The Fourth SANEM-World Bank North America Discussion Forum 2023]

This study examines the impact of parental illness on child health in rural Bangladesh. Using a set of health conditions that are as good as random, we find that parental illness has a significant negative effect on child height. Both Fathers’ and mothers’ illnesses exhibit equally detrimental effects. Exploring potential mechanisms, we find that parental illness induces financial distress, characterized by increased medical spending, diminished assets, and increased borrowing. Consequently, parents respond by substantially reducing resource allocation, manifested through decreased food intake and protein consumption. The findings of this study carry important policy implications, as mitigating the effects of parental illness could close 3.5% of the height gap between Bangladeshi children and the global average.

Entitled to Property: How Breaking the Gender Barrier Improves Child Health in India (with Plamen Nikolov) [Conference Presentation: SEA 2022, PacDev 2022, ADE 2022, Economic Demography Workshop (EDW) 2024]

Non-unitary household models suggest that enhancing women’s bargaining power can influence child health, a crucial determinant of human capital and economic standing throughout adulthood. We examine the effects of a policy shift, the Hindu Succession Act Amendment (HSAA), which granted inheritance rights to unmarried women in India, on child health. Our findings indicate that the HSAA improved children’s height and weight. Furthermore, we uncover evidence supporting a mechanism whereby the policy bolstered women’s intra-household bargaining power, resulting in downstream benefits through enhanced parental care for children and improved child health. These results emphasize
that children fare better when mothers control a larger share of family resources. Policies empowering women can yield additional positive externalities for children’s human capital.

The Lasting Effects of Early Childhood Interventions: The National Vaccination Commando Program in Burkina Faso (with Richard Daramola, Harounan Kazianga, and Abdoul Karim Nchare Fogam) [Under Review] [Conference Presentation: ASHEcon 2022, NEUDC 2022, ASSA Annual Meeting 2024, The South East Exchange of Development Studies (SEEDS) 4th Annual Conference, Fifth SANEM-World Bank North America Discussion Forum 2024, Rosenkranz Symposium 2024]

This study evaluates the long-term impacts of the National Vaccination Commando Program, an early childhood health intervention in Burkina Faso, during the 1980s. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find significant reductions in child mortality and improvements in educational attainment, including increased primary school completion rates. We also find significant positive effects on adult employment and agricultural productivity, yielding a substantial rate of return on the initial health intervention. These findings underscore the lasting benefits of early childhood health interventions in low-income countries.

Remittances and Household Dependence: Evidence from Bangladesh (with Adesola Sunmoni and Estiaque Bari) [Under Review] [Conference Presentation: ASSA Annual Meeting 2024, Seventh SANEM Annual Economists' Conference 2024]

This study examines whether remittances, as private transfers, contribute to household dependence. Drawing on the economic theory of income effect of non-labor income, we hypothesize that remittances reduce the likelihood and magnitude of non-remittance income generated by recipient households. To address endogeneity concerns, we employ instrumental variable and imperfect instrumental variable approaches. Our results show that remittances do not lead to dependence at either the extensive or intensive margins. The results are robust across different model specifications and relaxation of the exogeneity assumption. We explore two channels through which remittances could reduce dependence—the health productivity effect and capital accumulation effect. We find that remittances significantly enhance household living standards and facilitate capital accumulation, thereby promoting higher productivity and engagement in income-generating activities among left-behind household members. Overall, our study contributes to understanding the impact of remittances on household dependence, underscoring their positive role in augmenting non-remittance income.

Why Do Workers from Low-Income Backgrounds Earn Less as Adults? (with Eric Nielsen and David Slichter) [Conference Presentation: SOLE 2023]

What accounts for the intergenerational correlation of labor market income: worker’s productive skills or the ability to translate a given level of skill into earnings? Using a rich set of controls, we show that observable differences between workers from high- and low-earning backgrounds can account for the majority of the intergenerational earnings relationship. We then present multiple lines of evidence regarding the gap that we are unable to explain with controls. Overall, we estimate that roughly 70% of the earnings disadvantage of people raised in low-earning families is due to differences in workers’ skills, with the remaining 30% being due to differences in efficiency of translating skills into earnings. The contribution of inefficiency is greatest for younger workers. The most important differences in efficiency are related to wage bargaining and geography.

Research in Progress

  1. Institutional Births and Child Health
  2. Government Job Age Regulation and Labor Market Outcomes (with Elisa Taveras)
  3. School Feeding and Human Capital Development (with Gustavo Acosta and Muchin Bazan)
  4. Financial Inclusion Policy and Bank Branch Expansion in Bangladesh (with Andrea Szabo and Nabila Rahman)