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Quality of higher education and the labor market in developing countries: Evidence from an education reform in Senegal (with Dorothée Boccanfuso and Alexandre Larouche). World Development 74 (October 2015), 412-424.
While many studies examine the effect of primary education quality on labor market outcomes in developing countries, little is known about the effects at higher levels. We exploit the quasi-experiment provided by a large-scale education reform launched in Senegal in 2000 to investigate how quality improvements at the university level affect employment. Our difference-in-difference estimates suggest that young high-skilled workers experienced a nine percentage-point employment gain relative to older workers. They are also more likely to have “better” jobs (in the service industry or government), suggesting a reduction in the mismatch between the quality of high-skill labor demanded and supplied.
Saving lives at birth: The impact of home births on infant outcomes (with N. Meltem Daysal and Reyn van Ewijk). American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 7:3 (July 2015), 28-50.
Many developed countries have recently experienced sharp increases in home birth rates. This paper investigates the impact of home births on the health of low-risk newborns using data from the Netherlands, the only developed country where home births are widespread. To account for endogeneity in location of birth, we exploit the exogenous variation in distance from a mother's residence to the closest hospital. We find that giving birth in a hospital leads to substantial reductions in newborn mortality. We provide suggestive evidence that proximity to medical technologies may be an important channel contributing to these health gains.
Legal recognition of same-sex couples and family formation. Demography 52:1 (February 2015), 113-151.
It has long been debated how legalizing same-sex marriage would impact (different-sex) family formation. In this paper, I use data on OECD member countries for the period 1980–2009 to examine the effects of the legal recognition of same-sex couples (through marriage or an alternative institution) on different-sex marriage, divorce, and extramarital births. Estimates from difference-in-difference models indicate that the introduction of same-sex marriage or of alternative institutions has no negative effects on family formation. These findings are robust to a multitude of specification checks, including the construction of counterfactuals using the synthetic control method. In addition, the country-by-country case studies provide evidence of homogeneity of the estimated effects.
Reply to comment on "The effect of same-sex marriage laws on different-sex marriage: Evidence from the Netherlands", Demography 51:6 (December 2014), 2349-2350.
My reply to Dinno (2014), who argues that finding no evidence of change in the marriage rate is not proof of absence of change and suggests using equivalence tests to verify that the same-sex marriage law had no effect on the different-sex marriage rate.
The effect of same-sex marriage laws on different-sex marriage: Evidence from the Netherlands, Demography 51:1 (February 2014), 317-340. Winner of the 2008 Award for the Best Comparative Article Presented at an APPAM Research Conference.
It has long been argued that the legalization of same-sex marriage would have a negative impact on marriage. In this article, I examine how different-sex marriage in the Netherlands was affected by the enactment of two laws: a 1998 law that provided all couples with an institution almost identical to marriage (a "registered partnership") and a 2001 law that legalized same-sex marriage for the first time in the world. I first construct a synthetic control for the Netherlands using OECD data for the period 1988–2005 and find that neither law had significant effects on either the overall or different-sex marriage rate. I next construct a unique individual-level data set covering the period 1995–2005 by combining the Dutch Labor Force Survey and official municipal records. The estimates from a discrete-time hazard model with unobserved heterogeneity for the first-marriage decision confirm the findings in the aggregate analysis. The effects of the two laws are heterogeneous, with presumably more-liberal individuals (as defined by their residence or ethnicity) marrying less after passage of both laws and potentially more-conservative individuals marrying more after passage of each law.
Banking sector stability, efficiency, and outreach in Kenya (with Thorsten Beck, Robert Cull, Michael J. Fuchs, Jared Getenga, Peter K. Gatere, and John Randa), in Christopher Adam, Paul Collier, and Njuguna Ndung’u (eds.), Kenya: Policies for Prosperity, Oxford University Press, 2011. Also available as World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5442, October 2010.
Although Kenya's financial system is by far the largest and most developed in East Africa and its stability has improved significantly over the past years, many challenges remain. This paper assesses the stability, efficiency, and outreach of Kenya's banking system, using aggregate, bank-level, and survey data. Banks' asset quality and liquidity positions have improved, making the system more resistant to shocks, and interest rate spreads have declined, in part due to reduction in the overhead costs of foreign banks. Outreach remains limited, but has improved in recent years, driven by mobile payments services in the domestic remittance market. Fostering a level regulatory playing field for all deposit-taking institutions is a key remaining challenge. Specifically, an effective but not overly burdensome framework for regulation and supervision of microfinance institutions and cooperatives is a priority. Maintaining an openness to new, and non-bank, providers of financial services, which has enabled the success of mobile payments, could also further outreach.
Heterogeneous effects of medical interventions on the health of low-risk newborns (with N. Meltem Daysal and Reyn van Ewijk), November 2016 (an earlier version is available as IZA Discussion Paper No. 9810). Submitted.
We investigate heterogeneity in the impact of early-life medical interventions on low-risk newborns' health. A policy rule in The Netherlands creates large discontinuities in medical treatments at gestational week 37. Using a regression discontinuity design, we find no health benefits from additional treatments for average newborns. However, there is substantial heterogeneity in returns to treatments, with significant health benefits for newborns in the lowest income quartile and no benefits in higher income quartiles. We provide suggestive evidence that potential difficulties in risk screening among low-income women cause this heterogeneity. ``Back-of-the-envelope'' calculations suggest that providing additional treatments to all low-risk births as per the current policy rule is barely efficient, but a targeted policy focusing on low-income areas would be highly cost-effective.
Spillover effects of early-life medical interventions (with Sanni Breining, N. Meltem Daysal, and Marianne Simonsen), IZA Discussion Paper No. 9086. Currently revising, new version coming soon.
We investigate the spillover effects of early-life medical treatments on the siblings of treated children. We use a regression discontinuity design that exploits changes in medical treatments across the very low birth weight (VLBW) cutoff. Using administrative data from Denmark, we first confirm the findings in the previous literature that children who are slightly below the VLBW cutoff have better short- and long-term health, and higher math test scores in 9th grade. We next investigate spillover effects on siblings and find no evidence of an impact on their health outcomes. However, we find substantial positive spillovers on all our measures of academic achievement. Our estimates suggest that siblings of focal children who were slightly below the VLBW cutoff have higher 9th grade language and math test scores, as well as higher probability of enrolling in a high school by age 19. Our results suggest that improved interactions within the family may be an important pathway behind the observed spillover effects.
Work in Progress
The effects of language proficiency on the health and health behavior of immigrants (with N. Meltem Daysal and Ana Ferrer).
Drug decriminalization, crime, and infectious diseases (with Julio Caceres-Delpiano, N. Meltem Daysal, Pedro Portugal, and Ana Tavares).
Breast cancer treatment and socioeconomic outcomes of treated women and their families (funded through a DFF-Research 2 grant; PI: N. Meltem Daysal).
The impact of antidepressant use on socioeconomic outcomes of treated individuals and their families (funded through a DFF-Research 1 grant).
RIP (abandoned projects)
Returns to childbirth technologies: Evidence from preterm births (with N. Meltem Daysal and Reyn van Ewijk), IZA Discussion Paper No. 7834.
We investigate the impact of obstetrician supervision, as opposed to midwife supervision, on the health of low-risk newborns. We exploit a unique policy rule in the Netherlands that creates a large discontinuity in the probability of a low-risk birth being attended by an obstetrician at gestational week 37. Using a fuzzy regression discontinuity design, we consistently find no health benefits from obstetrician supervision, despite increased neonatal intensive care unit admission rates among births supervised by obstetricians. These results indicate potential cost savings from shifting supervision of low-risk deliveries, which represent the vast majority of all births, from obstetricians to midwives.