Essays on education and labor supply
Vidal Fernández, Maria A.
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This dissertation evaluates policy-relevant issues in labor and education in developed and developing countries.The first chapter analyzes the effects on high school graduation and other academic outcomes of academic requirements for participation in high school athletics. I use a simple conceptual framework to illustrate the possible effects of the requirement and derive testable predictions. Then, I combine data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79) with data on the rules to test the model's predictions. I find that requiring athletes to pass one additional course increased the overall likelihood of graduation among boys by two percentage points but did not affect female students, who at the time had limited access to interscholastic competition. The second chapter (with Josefina Posadas) examines the role of grandparents' child-care provision on mothers' labor market participation. Using the NLSY79 and data from eleven European countries (SHARE), we find significant differences in characteristics of families who rely on this form of child care. Both ordinary least squares and instrumental variables estimates show that the availability of grandparents' care is linked to an increase in the probability of female labor force participation. The third chapter (with Xavier Gine and Monica Martinez-Bravo) studies the labor supply of Indian boat-owners. It uses daily data on labor force participation and the value of catches to test whether the response of labor supply to increases in wages and income is better explained by the conventional framework of inter-temporal substitution or by reference-dependent preferences. This chapter shows that boat-owners' labor participation depends not only on their expected earnings, but also on their recent earnings, supporting income-reference-dependent preferences models. However, the response to changes in recent income is small relative to the response to changes in expected earnings. Furthermore, the results imply that short-term labor supply models should include recent earnings conditional and recent effort as control variables. Since recent earnings are positively correlated with expected earnings and negatively related to the probability of participation, omitting this variable yields downward-biased elasticity estimates.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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