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Three Essays on Investments in Children's Human Capital

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Title: Three Essays on Investments in Children's Human Capital
Author(s): Bustelo, Monserrat
Advisor(s): Arends-Kuenning, Mary P.
Contributor(s): Gundersen, Craig; Nelson, Charles H.; Powers, Elizabeth T.; Sosa-Escudero, Walter
Department / Program: Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline: Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Doctoral
Subject(s): Schooling participation Conditional Cash Transfers Siblings effects Nicaragua Child Nutrition Child schooling Natural Disaster Earthquake Colombia
Abstract: This dissertation encompasses three chapters that study the extent to which natural disasters and social assistance programs affect children's schooling, child labor, and children’s health in developing countries. Below are the individual abstracts for each chapter. Chapter 1: Bearing the Burden of Natural Disasters: Child Labor and Schooling in the Aftermath of Tropical Storm Stan in Guatemala This paper exploits an extreme climate event, Tropical Storm Stan, which devastated Guatemala in 2005, to identify the short-term impact of a large-scale disaster on children's schooling and child labor. The empirical strategy exploits time and spatial variation in the intensity of the shock. The paper uses a self-reported measure of shock exposure collected by a nationally representative household survey six to twelve months after the disaster. In addition, the paper uniquely incorporates an external administrative measure of exposure that captures the direct value of damages caused by the storm in each Guatemalan department. Results emphasize that child labor is an important part of family self-insurance strategies and that a great deal of heterogeneity by gender and age exists in terms of how children’s time allocation was affected by the storm. The shock led to a significant increase in child labor for children aged 13 to 15 and school participation decreased only for male children. By contrast, findings suggest that children aged 7 to 12 tended to not bear the burden of the disaster. Results are robust to alternative specifications, including an instrumental variable strategy. Chapter 2: Persistent Impact of Natural Disasters on Child Nutrition and Schooling: Evidence from the 1999 Colombian Earthquake This paper studies the impact of the 1999 Colombian Earthquake on child nutrition and schooling. The identification strategy combines household survey data with event data on the timing and location of the earthquake, exploiting the exogenous exposure of children to the shock. The paper uniquely identifies both the short- and medium-term impacts of the earthquake, combining two cross-sectional household surveys collected before the earthquake and two cross-sectional household surveys collected one and six years after the earthquake. Colombia provides a unique setting for our study because the government launched a very successful reconstruction program after the earthquake. Findings report a strong negative impact of the earthquake on child nutrition and schooling in the short-term. Relevantly, amid the aid received by the affected area, the negative consequences of the earthquake persist with a lesser degree in the medium-term, particularly for boys. Chapter 3: Who Else Benefits from Conditional Cash Transfer Programs? Indirect Effects on Siblings in Nicaragua Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) welfare programs encourage households to invest in the human capital of their children. They offer eligible families cash in exchange for commitments, such as sending children from targeted populations to school. When this educational requirement can be met via the school attendance of only certain children within a household, other siblings within the same household might be indirectly affected in both positive and negative ways. This paper reports on new evidence from Nicaragua's Red de Proteccion Social CCT program, which targets educational grants only to children aged 7 to 13 who have not completed 4th grade. I analyze the indirect effects within households on the schooling and employment of two groups of non-targeted siblings: those aged 9 to 13 who have already completed 4th grade and those aged 14 to 17, who are too old to be eligible. Results suggest positive schooling effects within the households for older, non-targeted siblings, with higher impacts for boys than girls. Indeed, the enrollment gains for male siblings come hand in hand with a reduction of their labor supply.
Issue Date: 2012-02-06
Genre: thesis
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/29654
Rights Information: Copyright 2011 Monserrat Bustelo
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-02-06
Date Deposited: 2011-12
 

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