Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Jorge García

Committee Member

Robert Tamura

Committee Member

Curtis Simon

Committee Member

Jonathan Leganza

Committee Member

Michal Jerzmanowski


This dissertation is comprised of two essays on human capital. I analyze how early-life human capital boost shapes micro-level outcomes among disadvantaged children in the US. In the second chapter, I study the productivity convergence among OECD countries and evaluate to what extent the labor force’s sectoral allocation (due to different human capital profiles across countries) contributes to it. In the first chapter, which is joint work with Jorge Garc´ia and William Dougan, we analyze a large-scale trial of an early-childhood education program targeting premature, low-birthweight children, thereby oversampling twins. We find that failing to account for this oversampling obscures the program’s benefits. Among singletons, treatment increased childcare hours and parental inputs, fostering their short-term cognition and age-18 non-cognitive skills. These impacts are comparable to those of high-quality programs. For twins, treatment increased childcare hours but reduced parental inputs, generating small positive short-term and negative age-18 impacts. A price-theoretic model of household production of child welfare indicates that scale effects arising from tight birth spacing explain the singleton-twin impact differences during program participation. In the second chapter, I explore the convergence hypothesis using historical data on output per worker across OECD countries in 1820-2010. Prior studies find evidence supporting the convergence hypothesis. Looking at the more extended time period and using multiple convergence concepts, I present evidence of divergence of GDP per worker among OECD countries between 1820 and 1910. I then use shift-share decomposition to evaluate the relative importance of productivity differentials and labor force allocation components in explaining the overall productivity gap. Findings suggest that labor force allocation explained a larger share of this gap in the period during which output per worker was diverging. I also show that most of the gap in labor productivity for OECD countries is ultimately explained by the productivity differential component.



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