Essays on economic development of China
China's rapid economic growth and social transitions have drawn substantial recent attention. However, there is still limited understanding of these phenomena and the mechanisms behind them. This dissertation investigates three aspects of China's development: education, female labor supply and responses to natural shocks. Chapter 1 sheds light on the option value of education by studying the impact of China's college enrollment expansion on educational attainment at the high school level. Standard human capital models without uncertainty rarely address the importance of the option value of education -- the opportunity that a certain level of education provides to obtain a higher level of education. Therefore, changes in option values can affect human capital investment decisions. Combining survey data with provincial statistics and applying a difference-in-differences method, I find that China's college expansion significantly increased the probabilities of enrolling in and completing high school. The probability of completing high school increased more than that of enrolling in high school. Female students benefited more, as did children whose mother had a high school degree. Chapter 2 studies the relationship between fertility and female labor supply. Many empirical studies find a negative correlation between the two, however the evidence on causal effects is weaker because fertility is endogenous. This paper studies the effects of childbearing on women's labor supply and earnings using a plausibly exogenous change, the relaxation of China's One Child Policy, as an instrument for family size. The main findings are that total fertility has no significant impact on time of working as a wage earner, but children under six have a negative effect. Neither total fertility nor children under six affect women's farming time or annual income. Chapter 3 explores the long-term consequences of China's Great Famine from 1959 to 1961. Several studies have investigated the causes of the famine, yet little empirical work examined its consequences. This paper examines a set of health and socioeconomic outcomes that have not been studied. I find a significant positive selection in the height of survivors born during the famine. Individuals born during the famine received less education than those born before or after the famine, were more likely to work in agriculture when starting to work and transferred less money to their parents.