Essays on Household Behavior in Developing Economies
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This dissertation consists of three essays in development economics. I explore various household behaviors in developing economies, using India and Tanzania as examples. The first two chapters focus on urban slums to capture the inequality within cities and to evaluate the impact of an intervention during urbanization. The third chapter investigates the influence of an inheritance law reform on child labor. The first chapter, which is a joint work with Claus Portner, examines the differences in child health across rural, urban non-slum and slum areas. The developing world is rapidly becoming more and more urban, but our understanding of the differences between urban and rural areas is still limited, especially in the important area of child health and its determinants. Simple averages show clearly that child health in India is worst in rural areas and best in urban areas---with slums in between---but it is unclear exactly what accounts for these differences. We examine the determinants of these differences and to what extent the same mechanisms affect child health in different areas using the 2005-06 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) data from India. Once we control for environmental conditions and wealth status, the urban advantage in child health disappears and slum children fare substantially worse than their rural counterparts. We also examine the impact of maternal education on child health across rural, urban, and slum areas and find that the positive effect of mother's education on child health is significantly stronger in rural areas than in cities and almost entirely absent in slums. Potential explanations for these results, such as school quality and migration, are explored, but these are unlikely to fully explain the differences in health. The second chapter, which is a joint work with Aidan Coville, evaluates the impact of a slum upgrading project in Tanzania. Developing countries spend significant amounts of their budgets annually on slum upgrading activities, with the broad objectives of alleviating poverty, improving health and well-being and strengthening the social fabric within these communities in a holistic and integrated manner. Rigorous evidence on the impact of these programs is sparse. Isolating the causal impact of these interventions presents a challenge, since the outcomes of interest are often correlated with the site selection for upgrading, and randomized controlled trials are not usually feasible for practical implementation reasons. While rigorous research is beginning to emerge on the effects of slum upgrading on diarrhea, acute respiratory illness (ARI) and the crowding out of private investments, very little is known about the broader impacts of the upgrading process that serve to motivate these interventions in the first place. This paper evaluates the Community Infrastructure Upgrading Program (CIUP) financed by the World Bank with the aim of improving the lives of slum dwellers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania through targeted investments in community infrastructure such as roads, drainage systems and streetlights. We find that the CIUP interventions increased household sizes and decreased out-migration, halved diarrhea rates for children under 5, and increased female school enrollment rates, but did not have significant impacts on employment, business operations, income and expenditure, private investment or social cohesion. We review possible confounding factors that influence the reliability of these estimates and present the results in light of these methodological constraints. The third chapter examines the relationship between female autonomy and child labor in India. Many children in developing countries are engaged in various forms of child labor. It is important to understand the determinants of child labor and to evaluate its welfare implications. Intra-household bargaining has been considered an important factor in household decision-making for investment in children. This paper uses the Hindu Succession Act Amendment (HSAA) in India as a source of exogenous variation in woman's bargaining power and information from the 2005-06 National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3) to study the effect on child labor. I find that the increase in mothers' bargaining power is associated with a lower probability of child labor, and this negative impact is especially strong for teenage daughters. A daughter of 12 to 14 years old is less likely to be working by 30 percentage points and is less likely to do family work by 20.6 percentage points if her mother is exposed to the HSAA. The HSAA also shows differential impact on families with different sizes and wealth status.
- Economics