Job Market Paper

"The Effect of Compulsory Education on Age at First Marriage and Teenage Fertility: Evidence from a Difference-in-Discontinuity Design" [Draft]

Abstract: I evaluate the causal effect of an increase in the mandatory years of schooling on teenage pregnancy and age at first marriage. Using a difference-in-discontinuity research design, I find that the 1997 increase in years of schooling in Turkey (from five years to eight years) substantially increased women’s educational attainment and improved their labor market outcomes in their twenties, primarily by reducing employment within the agricultural sector. The increase in education was associated with a decrease in teenage pregnancy before the late adolescent age and an increase in the age at first marriage. The effect of education on fertility vanished after age nineteen, however. The evidence suggests that these impacts may be due to the human capital effect.

Working in Progress

"The Impact of School Spending on Civic Engagement: Evidence from School Finance Reforms" with Eric Brunner and Stephen Ross

Abstract: One of the primary rationales for the public provision of K-12 education and the large role played by state governments in financing K-12 education is that education fosters not only the development of human capital but also enhances social capital and civic engagement. However, despite the importance of such positive externalities in justifying the large K-12 educational investments made by state and local governments, very little evidence exists on whether and how K-12 school spending affects civic engagement. We provide some of the first causal evidence on how exogenous increases in K-12 school spending impact civic engagement. The court-ordered and legislative school nance reforms that occurred throughout the United States over the last several decades led to large and plausibly exogenous shocks to K-12 school spending. We leverage the timing and location of these school nance reforms to estimate event study and difference-in-differences models designed to isolate the causal impact of K-12 school spending on civic engagement. Our analysis is based on school district-level data from 1986{2013 on K-12 school spending from the National Center for Education Statistics along with data on measures of civic engagements from multiple waves of the High School and Beyond of 1988 (HSB) National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS), the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS) and the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS).We nd that the SFR increased the per-pupil spending and high school completion for the lowest-income school districts. Our results on high school graduation rates align with those of Jackson, Johnson, and Persico (2016). Moreover, the reform increased the number of hours spent on voluntary community activities in low-income reform districts, the effect size increasing as students are exposed more years to the SFR.

"Big Sisters and Risky Sexual Behaviors" with Jorge M. Aguero

Abstract: We assess the impact of having an older sister rather than an older brother on the younger sister's risky sexual behaviors in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa. Big sisters are considered second mothers in the anthropology literature. They often play an essential role in caregiving for younger siblings, which has a long-term effect on the latter's educational attainments and labor market outcomes. We use individual-level data from the Maternal Mortality Module (MMM) in the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), a nationally representative survey of women aged between 15 and 49. To estimate the impact of big sisters on the risky sexual behaviors of younger sisters, we assume that the gender of the firstborn is plausibly exogenous. We nd that having a big sister increases safe sexual behaviors. These findings are robust to adjustments for multiple hypothesis testing. We identify several mechanisms. Having a big sister increases a woman's knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptive methods; it also raises her human capital investments and improves the quality of her partners. Also, the impacts on safer behaviors are higher when the big sister was present while a woman was growing up, suggesting that interactions with the older sister matter.

Future Agenda

The Intergenerational Effects of the School Finance Reform”

I evaluate the intergenerational impact of the SFR on infant and child health. Multiple studies show evidence of the positive effect of the SFR on high school graduation and longer-term outcomes such as employment and earning1. However, little is known about the longterm transmission of the improvement in terms of outcomes in subsequent generations. There are some plausible explanations for why the SFR-exposed cohort might have better birth outcomes and child health. Educated parents are more likely to have a higher income that provides nutritious food for mothers during pregnancy and are more aware of the importance of early age health and its long-term effects. To identify the intergenerational impact of school spending, I use the restricted version of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), which provides information on individuals’ childhood residence (census tract), which can be used to indicate whether the individual was affected by the reform and the years of exposure. Additionally, I utilize PSID Childhood Development Supplement (CDS), which started collecting detailed information on 0– 12 year-old children and their parents from 1997. I am expecting to find that a PSID person who was affected by the SFR has healthier children.

“The Impact of School Spending on Adolescents Risk-Taking Behavior: Evidence from School Finance Reforms”

I plan to continue exploring more about the impact of School Finance Reform (SFR) on adolescents risk-taking behaviors such as cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, fighting, and delinquency. There are two plausible explanations for the likelihood of an effect. First, the SFR increases the extracurricular activities available in low-income school districts, which may reduce the time available for students to engage in risky behaviors, leading to a decrease in such behaviors. This first mechanism is also called the incarceration effect2. Second, the SFR might improve the student’s future expectations, thereby increasing the opportunity cost of such behaviors. To examine this research question, I use the multiple waves of High School and Beyond 1980 (HSB), the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS), the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS), and the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS). The dataset includes outcomes such as the number of hours spent on extracurricular activities in relation to expected graduation from college, expected income, and expected employment at age 30 in the analysis of both mechanisms.