Research Papers

"The Impact of School Spending on Civic Engagement: Evidence from School Finance Reforms"(Job Market Paper)

(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 school spending 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 school spending affects civic engagement. We provide some of the first

causal evidence on how exogenous increases in school spending impact civic engagement. The court-ordered

and legislative school finance 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 finance reforms to estimate difference-in-difference-in-differences (DDD) models designed to isolate

the causal impact of school spending on civic engagement. Using data from multiple waves of the National

Education Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS), the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS) and the High

School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS), we find that exogenous increases in school spending led to increases

in the probability that young adults volunteer and the amount of time they spend volunteering. In contrast,

we find little evidence that school spending impacts voting behavior. Finally, consistent with prior studies, we

find evidence that increases in school spending increase high school graduation and college attendance.

"The Effect of Compulsory Education on Age at First Marriage and Teenage Fertility:

Evidence from a Dierence-in-Discontinuity Design "

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 and incapicitaion effect.

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

Abstract: We study the effect of having an older sister on the risky sexual behaviors of younger women. Using

data from 36 Sub Saharan African countries and an identication strategy that relies on the randomness of the

sex of the firstborn, we show that having a big sister leads to safer sexual behaviors. Big sisters also increase

a woman's knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptive methods, it raises her human

capital investments and the quality of her partners. The impacts on safer behaviors are larger when the big

sister was present while the index woman was growing up, so interactions with the older sister matter. They

are also larger in more conservative societies suggesting that big sisters are a source of knowledge when there

is restricted access to public information.

Other Projects in Progress

"Covid Lockdown and Infant Mortality: Evidence from India" with Shatakshee Dhongde and Abu Shonchoy

"Maternity Leave Policy and Child Health in India" with Shatakshee Dhongde and Le Wang

"The Impact of School Spending on Multdimensional Poverty: Evidende from School Finance Reforms" with Shatakshee Dhongde

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.