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Title:Three essays on education decisions in Colombia
Author(s):Bonilla Mejia, Leonardo
Director of Research:Akresh, Richard
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Akresh, Richard
Doctoral Committee Member(s):McMillen, Daniel; Powers, Elizabeth; Osman, Adam
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Colombia, Information, Mining
Abstract:This dissertation contains three chapters that study education decisions in Colombia. Below are the individual abstracts for each chapter. Chapter 1: Information Policies and Higher Education Choices: Experimental Evidence from Colombia This paper studies whether providing information on funding opportunities and college premiums by degree-college pairs affects higher education decisions in a developing country. We conducted a randomized controlled trial in Bogotá, Colombia, on a representative sample of 120 urban public high schools, 60 of which were assigned to receive a 35-minute informational talk delivered by local college graduates. Using survey data linked to administrative records, we analyze student beliefs and evaluate the intervention. Findings show that most students overestimate true college premiums and are generally unaware of funding options. The talk does not affect earning beliefs but improves knowledge of financing programs, especially among the poor. There is no evidence that information disclosure affects post-secondary enrollment. However, students in treated schools who do enroll choose more selective colleges. These positive effects are mostly driven by students from better socioeconomic backgrounds. We conclude that information policies are ineffective to raise college enrollment in contexts with significant academic and financial barriers to entry, but may potentially affect certain students' choice of college. Chapter 2: Do High School Peers Influence Post-Secondary Decisions? An Endogenous Network Approach This paper studies the influence of high school peers on post-secondary decisions. Peer effects are identified in a social network framework. To collect information on social relationships and post-secondary decisions, over 6,000 senior-year high school students from Bogotá, Colombia, are surveyed and then followed up after graduation using administrative records. An endogenous network model is used to correct for social selection. Results indicate that close peers have some small influence on aspirations and academic performance, however, their effect is too small to translate into actual enrollment choices. Chapter 3: Local Effects of Small-Scale Mining on School Education and Child Labor: Evidence from the Colombia's Gold Rush Driven by a sharp rise in international prices, Colombia experienced a gold rush that reached its peak in 2012. The boom was characterized by the prevalence of small-scale artisan and illegal mining. This paper estimates the local effects of mining on schools and children. Using detailed geographic information, I construct two measures of annual change in local mining intensity capturing both legal and illegal mining: the area covered by active mining titles, and the deforestation in areas with identified gold deposits. Measurement error and potential endogeneity problems are addressed by instrumenting the mining measures with the interaction between gold prices and deposits. The main results indicate that mining significantly increases dropout rates in urban areas. For children aged 9 to 11 this is partially due to a higher probability of working. Results also indicate that in this particular context even legal mining has been harmful to children. The impact is larger when illegal mining is accounted for.
Issue Date:2016-05-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Leonardo Bonilla Mejia
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-11-10
Date Deposited:2016-08

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