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Title:Essays on early childhood development and family economics
Author(s):Sanchez, Raul Oscar
Director of Research:Arends-Kuenning, Mary P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Arends-Kuenning, Mary P.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Nelson, Charles H.; Powers, Elizabeth T.; Wiswall, Matthew J.; Crost, Benjamin
Department / Program:Agr & Consumer Economics
Discipline:Agricultural & Applied Econ
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Child development
Structural models
Socio-emotional skills
Abstract:The central theme of this dissertation is to analyze the importance of family investment in explaining the evolution of children's development in disadvantaged households. I study how socioeconomic conditions, parenting, child care choices, and parent's innate ability determine cognitive and non-cognitive abilities of their children. I also examine how effective policy interventions can help to reduce socioeconomic disparities and to enhance child development. In my first essay, I estimate a production function of cognitive achievement for children of the ages 7-8 and 14-15 years old in Andhra Pradesh, India. I identify the influence of socioeconomic factors, nutrition, parenting, and school inputs on cognitive development measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test. Using the longitudinal study Young Lives project in India, I apply the algorithm proposed by Levinsohn and Petrin (2003) to build control functions that account for the endogeneity of parental investment decisions and uncover causal effects of key inputs. I find that household socioeconomic characteristics strongly influence their children's cognitive development. Nutrition, household quality, and school factors also contribute to a child's development but to a lesser extent. A key factor that contributes significantly to the production of skills is the time that the mother spends with her child. Based on the simple specification presented in the previous model, in my second essay I apply a structural model of labor and child-care options to analyze the impact of mothers' decisions on their children's cognitive and non-cognitive development. Mothers decide on child-care arrangements and allocate their labor supply according to their preferences and constraints. I estimate the parameters of a production function of skills by applying simulation methods with data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Results indicate that maternal time is the most significant factor in the production of skills of young children. Counterfactual exercises show the importance of institutional child care on both cognitive and non-cognitive measures. Finally, I go beyond the previous model and in my third essay I focus on mothers who consume substances during their children's development processes to analyze the consequences of their household and substance-consumption decisions on their children's non-cognitive skills. Using modified versions of the family economics and rational addition frameworks proposed by Becker, I present a production function of children's non-cognitive skills nested within an explicit model of household decision-making in which mothers have time-inconsistent preferences. The model is identified and estimated by applying simulation methods with data from two sources: the Maternal Lifestyle Study, which contains information on maternal substance use and children's non-cognitive skills, and the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study, which has data on parental income and labor supply. Results indicate that, in households with substance-using mothers, a composed parental input is a relevant factor in the production of non-cognitive skills for children under twelve years old. Mothers' addictions negatively affect children's non-cognitive skills, but their impact diminishes as the child grows. The unbiased estimates from the structural model allow us to perform counterfactual exercises. I study how policies can compensate for both pre- and postnatal exposure to maternal substance use in children under twelve years old.
Issue Date:2017-04-20
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Raul Oscar Sanchez
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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