Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Jorge Luis Garcia
Chungsang Tom Lam
This dissertation comprises three essays on the impacts of child's health on maternal labor market outcomes and the consequence of teen childbearing on child's health outcomes in the United States. The rich set of differences in early childhood development consequentially tie the health of a child to different socioeconomic outcomes of a mother. Understanding how a child's health may impact a mother's career decisions is crucial as it can inform policies affecting workplace leave guidelines. Thus, it is also of prime importance to study potential determinants of child health. Since maternal age at birth may play an important role in deciding a child's health condition, I further examine the effect of having a teen mother on an individual's health both in child and adulthood.
In the first chapter, I test the impact of early childhood chronic health conditions on mother's labor market outcomes over time. Combining data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1979-2014, I estimate event-study models comparing mothers of healthy children to mothers who have children with some health conditions up to ten years after childbirth. To better account for background characteristics that may increase the odds of having a child with health conditions, I have employed the method of entropy balance matching. Additionally, I have adjusted for bias in self-reporting by using the responses of other mothers who have children with similar health conditions as instruments. The results suggest that there is no significant gap on the extensive margin between the mothers with chronically ill children and the mothers with healthy children. Conditional on being employed, there is a 5.63% gap in annual hours worked and a 9.07% gap in annual earnings. The magnitude of the negative effect on earnings becomes more profound at 10.07% when only severe health conditions are considered compared to the case when all chronic conditions are taken into account. Among married women, the gap in participation is almost 5.7 percentage points, with a significant gap of 12.66% in earnings. The results further indicate that maternal hours worked decline both for time and cost-intensive health conditions of the child.
The second chapter is a joint work with Devon Gorry. We analyze the effects of having a teen mother on child health outcomes from birth to young adulthood. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1979-2014, we use an empirical strategy that relies on miscarriages to put bounds on the causal impacts of teen childbearing. Results indicate that there is no evidence that teen childbearing has negative impacts on children, and there may be some cases of positive effects. In addition, children of teen mothers report fewer diagnosed disorders and conditions requiring medical attention. There is no clear evidence that insurance coverage or utilization are driving the suggestive health improvements in children of teen mothers, but we cannot rule out this avenue.
In the third chapter, I evaluate the differential impact that children's chronic health conditions have on mothers' labor market outcomes across child gender. I employ the method of event study approach using multiple data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Results indicate that although gender balance across health conditions shows male children to be more likely to suffer from health conditions, mothers of girls who have chronic health conditions are less likely to be employed and work for fewer hours than mothers who have healthy girls. However, I do not find any gap in maternal outcomes in the case of male children. These results may suggest that the marginal girl that gets diagnosed has more severe conditions compared to the marginal boy child. The preliminary analyses open the door for future exploration of the possible mechanisms.
Basu, Shubhashrita, "Essays on Children's Health, Maternal Outcomes, and Teen Childbearing" (2021). All Dissertations. 2818.