Three essays in development economics
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This dissertation studies the occupational choices of women in developing countries. In Chapter 1, I examine how removing barriers to higher education for women affects their enrollment, marriage and labor outcomes. In 1992, Pakistan equalized admissions criteria for women and men applying to medical school. I show that the reform induced a rapid increase in the female proportion of medical graduates. Next, I use cross-birth cohort variation to show that post-reform women medical graduates were more motivated to work: they delayed marriage in their 20s and increased labor force participation in their 20s and 30s. When they married, they matched with higher earning spouses. I consider four channels of effect and find suggestive evidence in favor of a treatment effect of the reform. Equalizing admissions criteria especially induced women from middle class and migrant families to choose work over marriage in their 20s. In Chapter 2, I study how an increased proportion of women in medicine affects the structure of the medical sector and patient care. Post reform, the medical sector was increasingly feminized, women specialists entered male dominated specialties, and especially so in urban areas. In the short run, women patients’ experience with pregnancy and infant mortality did not change, suggesting that labor force composition changes take longer to affect downstream outcomes. Chapter 3 studies the effect of male-biased labor demand shocks on women's employment. I study shocks in the Indonesian mining sector using proprietary mine location data and instrumenting for mine value with the world price of minerals. Expansions in the mining industry lead to negligible changes in employment, but higher wages for women. They cause substantial shifts in individuals' sector and location of work. Both women and men move from agriculture to the service and mining sectors, and women are less likely to work without pay. Mining booms induce movements between districts, which may allow labor supply to adjust to changes in labor demand. Together, these results imply that shocks to a male dominated industry cause structural shifts that affect both genders.
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