Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The first chapter of this dissertation evaluates the impact of state-level Medicaid reimbursement rates for obstetric care on prenatal care utilization across demographic groups. It also uses these rates as an instrumental variable to assess the importance of prenatal care on birth weight. The analysis is conducted using a unique dataset of Medicaid reimbursement rates and 2001-2010 Vital Statistics Natality data. Conditional on county fixed effects, a doubling of reimbursement rates yields an additional prenatal visit for black disadvantaged mothers, an 11% increase. The magnitude of the effect is somewhat smaller for white disadvantaged mothers. However, the effect of an additional prenatal visit on birth weight is virtually zero for black disadvantaged mothers, while an additional visit yields a substantial increase in birth weight of over 20 grams for white disadvantaged mothers. In the second chapter, using data from PSID time diaries, I analyze the effect of maternal time involvement with a child on a set of the child's cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes. I construct a direct measure of maternal time with children, as well as differentiate the time by level of maternal involvement. This allows the analysis of a trade-off between maternal quality time and passive interaction with a child. I find that a child's active engagement time with his or her mother has a greater effect on decreasing behavioral problems. I also find positive evidence of maternal time on the improvement of socio-emotional competence. In the case of cognitive skills, I find little support for the positive effects of maternal time on the development of these types of skills.
Sonchak, Lyudmyla, "Essays on the Effect of Early Investments on Children's Outcomes" (2014). All Dissertations. 1384.