Research

Working Papers

“The Effect of Teenage Pregnancy on Schooling and Labor Force Participation: Evidence From Urban South Africa”

(Job Market Paper) You may find it here

Policy makers often express concerns over the lasting implications of teenage pregnancy, due to the observation that young mothers have worse health, less schooling, and poorer job market performance in adulthood. However, because there is selection into early motherhood, the causal impact of teenage pregnancy on human capital investments is difficult to estimate. Additionally, the majority of the literature has focused on high income settings. I examine the impact of teenage pregnancy in Cape Town, South Africa, on educational outcomes and future labor force participation using two main identification strategies. I use an instrumental variable strategy which relies on the number of teenage fertile years as an instrument for teenage pregnancy and exploit differences among a subsample of sisters where one sister reported a teenage pregnancy and at least one who did not. I find an increase in the likelihood of failing a grade by approximately 50 percentage points and dropping out of school of 27 percent (10 percentage points). As for overall school attainment, teenagers who report a pregnancy are, on average, 1.8 less years less educated. Finally, I find that the negative effects of teenage pregnancy is mitigated by strong kinship networks and by lowering its social costs. My findings suggest that the presence of the mother and attending a school with higher rates of grade repetition are associated with an attenuation effect of 0.5 and 0.4 years, respectively.


Mental Health Effects of an Old Age Grant: Experimental Evidence for Ekiti State in Nigeria

Many countries in the developing world have implemented old-age pensions. Evidence of the impact of such policies on the elderly in Sub- Saharan Africa is scarce, however. In this paper, we provide the first evidence from a randomized evaluation of an unconditional, non-contributory pension scheme targeted at the elderly in Ekiti State, Nigeria. Our findings show that treated beneficiaries self-report better quality of life, more stable mental health, and better general health. We also provide evidence of spillover effects on labor outcomes and on household expenditure patterns as well as support for demand-side interventions aimed at improving the welfare of elderly poor citizens and other household members.


“Does maternal schooling lead to improvements in child health? Evidence from Ethiopia”

This paper examines the role of womens education on child health by analyzing the second-generation impact of a nationwide reform that eliminated primary school fees in Ethiopia in 1995. Regional differences in the enrollment of primary school-age children, and variation in timing of the implementation of the reforms provide a natural experiment to pin down the years of free primary school education gained by the population of girls who lived in different regions. Analysis of key health outcomes among children whose mothers were educated at the time of the reforms implementation shows better long-run health outcomes among the offspring of women who received more schooling.The children of women with more schooling are 4 percentage points less likely to be chronically malnourished, and they display better weight-for-age and height-for-age Z-scores.