Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Member

Dr. F. Andrew Hanssen, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Scott Baier

Committee Member

Dr. Jaqueline Oliveira

Committee Member

Dr. Curtis Simon


This dissertation examines the relationship between changes in the role of female household members, measured through policy and technological shocks, and child outcomes. The first chapter uses a bargaining framework to examine how the introduction of female inheritance rights implemented in four Indian states between 1986 and 1994 impacts the educational achievement and labor force participation of children. I investigate time varying state amendments to the Hindu Succession Act of 1956 which provided equal inheritance rights to both male and female children. Using data from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series for India (IPUMS India) I find that the probability of primary school completion rose by 5.8 percentage points, and the probability of labor force participation decreased by 2.8 percentage points for children living in states that implemented reforms relative to control states. In a sample with a 51 percent primary school completion rate and an 8.8 percent employment rate for children ages 10-14, these results indicate an 11.4 percent increase in primary school completion and child labor force participation decreasing to just over two-thirds of the mean. Performing a triple difference analysis, I find that these results are larger for Hindu children, female children, and children living in rural areas. These children are directly affected by the inheritance laws put into place throughout the observed years of data. The second chapter uses a time allocation framework to examine how the presence of household durable goods impacts child outcomes. I use micro-level data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) to test the hypothesis that the presence of time-saving household appliances caused a decrease in time allocated to housework, increase in school enrollment rates, and decrease in labor force participation rates for children ages 12-18 in China over the last two decades. To control for endogeneity of household durable goods, I instrument household ownership of each time-saving appliance by the average ownership rate of that appliance among households with no children living in the same community. I estimate that living in a household that owns a washing machine: (1) decreases the average time dedicated to housework by 78 minutes per week, (2) increases the probability of being enrolled by 12 percentage points, and (3) decreases the probability of being employed by 48 percentage points. The final chapter, which is joint work with Jaqueline Oliveira, uses a static model of health, wages, and fertility to examine how family size, specifically number of children, impacts income risk. We use micro-level data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) to test the hypothesis that households without access to formal insurance use their children as a way to smooth consumption through transfers. Households in developing countries have been found to mitigate income risk through alternative informal insurance methods. Using the occurrence of multiple births (twins) and variations in the strictness of the One Child Policy to address the endogenity of family size, we estimate the effect of children on health and income of senior individuals within the household. Given the lack of formal insurance in developing countries, understanding the different tactics used to smooth consumption is important for improving the overall well-being of households in these areas. If households have a way to insure against income risk, consumption should not vary when an income shock occurs. We use health shocks among senior individuals in China to proxy for a shock to income. If health care is a large part of household expenses for senior individuals, a health shock can be seen as an income shock. We hypothesize that if transfers received from children respond to these health shocks, there will be less of an effect on consumption of other goods and services following this shock. We find that children help mitigate the probability of reporting bad health in the current period and mitigate the decrease in average labor income and average total income for senior individuals when they experience a health shock in the previous period.



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