Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Economics

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Tamura, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Scott Baier

Committee Member

Dr. Gerald Dwyer

Committee Member

Dr. Michal Jerzmanowski

Abstract

In the first chapter of this dissertation, we create original annual average years of education across the major, present-day states of India from 1951 to 2011 in line with work done by Turner et al.(2007). Drawing from multiple volumes of the decennial censuses, Planning Commission reports, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation databases and historical atlases to account for territorial changes since independence, our data show that the average Indian worker had less than a primary education even as late as 2011. However, this is still significantly more than the years of education of the average Indian, with the disparity growing in later years. We also construct original measures of real output per worker across the same period. Using OLS on differenced data, time fixed effects, as well as dynamic panel estimation, our results show an average return of between 20 and 25% to a year of education. After ensuring that our data show no feedback effects from worker output to future education, we use an endogenous fertility choice model created by Tamura et al, to demonstrate that the increasing but varied rates of change in education levels across all states are a result of declining mortality and increasing space costs. The two factors lead parents to choose higher quality rather than quantity of children, endowed with more education. To do this, we use census actuarial reports and life tables to construct probabilities of young deaths (<35 years of age) across the states and time under consideration and calibrate the model with rent and taste parameters. We are able to fit the model to match fertility and average education levels seen in the data. In the second chapter of this dissertation, we study a panel dataset of Indian states and examine the effect of economic freedom on the level of per capita income and its growth for the years 2005-2013, years for which data are available. I use a traditional Cobb-Douglas based Solow model for my analysis, using proxies for capital and human capital accumulation, augmented with CATO's measure of economic freedom. The results show a strong relationship between both level and growth of the economy and freedom. Further, economic freedom is related to lower unemployment rates and to a lower proportion of people living in poverty.

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