Parental Health Shocks and Child Health in Bangladesh [Under Review]
I study the effect of parental illness on child health in rural Bangladesh. Using a set of health conditions that I argue are as good as random, I find that parental illness has a significant negative effect on child height. Removing the effects of parental illness would close 3.5% of the gap in height between Bangladeshi children and the global average. Fathers’ and mothers’ illnesses have equally detrimental effects and I find a comparable effect for children in joint families, suggesting that intra-household safety nets are ineffective in protecting children against parental illness. Finally, I explore three potential mechanisms through which parental illness may affect child health: parental resource allocation, early life stress, and parents’ fertility choice.
Entitled to Property: Inheritance Laws, Female Bargaining Power, and Child Health in India (with Plamen Nikolov) [Under Review]
Non-unitary household models posit that increasing women’s bargaining power can affect child health, which is a significant predictor of human capital and economic status throughout adulthood. We study how a policy change, the Hindu Succession Act Amendment (HSAA), which provided inheritance rights to unmarried women in India, impacts child health. We find evidence that the HSAA improved the height and weight of children. In addition, we find evidence consistent with a channel that the policy improved women’s intra-household bargaining power, leading to downstream benefits: better parental care for children and improved child health. These study findings are also compatible with the notion that children do better when their mothers control a more significant fraction of the family resources. Thus, policies that empower women can have additional positive spillovers for children’s human capital.
The Lasting Effects of Early Childhood Interventions: The Sankara's National Vaccination Commando Program in Burkina Faso (with Richard Daramola, Harounan Kazianga, and Abdoul Karim Nchare Fogam)
After being in power in Burkina Faso for about a year, a military regime led by Thomas Sankara-, within weeks vaccinated 77% of children between ages one and six years old against measles, meningitis, and yellow fever. The coverage and the success of this program set it apart from other contemporary vaccination programs, hence providing a policy experiment to test the effects of large immunization programs in the contexts of developing economies. We estimate the impact of increased vaccination on child mortality, primary school outcomes, and adulthood labor market participation. We find that children under age one through five have witnessed a significant decline in the child mortality rate. The result also shows an increase in both school enrollment and completion. In adulthood, the vaccinated cohorts are likely to be employed and gainfully employed in the formal labor sector.
Remittances and Household Dependence: Evidence from Bangladesh (with Adesola Sunmoni and Estiaque Bari) [Under Review]
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)
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.