Health shocks can have significant consequences for human capital of future generations in countries with a poor system of health insurance. Access to health insurance may not only play a role in determining school expenditure but the differential enrollment of boys versus girls. Using two rounds of nationally representative survey data, the paper examines the impact of a cashless, paperless and portable health insurance scheme called the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) launched in 2008 in India, on schooling decisions and gender differences in education. Employing difference-in-differences and triple differences approach, the paper finds that access to RSBY is beneficial for child education as school expenditure increases after the treatment. Additionally, RSBY is found to be relatively more advantageous to girls as it reduces the existing gender gap in school enrollment. Robustness checks and sensitivity analyses support the validity of the results.
This paper studies the impact of India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act on the pattern of household consumption behaviour. NREGA guarantees employment which increases labour market opportunities, in particular, for females relative to males, which may cause a shift in household spending towards goods that are more in line with preferences of women. These shifts are likely to be amplified in regions with higher share of women employed through NREGA, in states that guarantee employment at higher minimum wages, and rice growing regions of India where females are traditionally more intensively involved in production. Using two rounds of nationally representative data, the phase wise roll-out of NREGA to districts across India is exploited to determine the programme’s impact. The paper finds exposure to NREGA to have economically and statistically significant effects on household consumption patterns and these effects are broadly suggestive of an increase in female bargaining power.
“The effect of quality of education on crime: Evidence from Colombia” with Andres F. Giraldo Palomino
This paper evaluates the impact of quality of education on violence and crime using student performances on a mandatory examination as the measure of quality. The paper exploits transfers of funds from central government to municipalities for investments in education as a source of exogenous variation and finds that better education quality has a negative impact on economic crimes such as kidnapping rates, rate of theft on persons and presence of illegal armed groups. The findings are consistent with an opportunity cost effect of education, that is, high quality education increases expectations of being absorbed by the labor market and discourages engaging in criminal activities. Results also point to perhaps a pacifying effect of education such that improvement of education quality generates less violent environments, promotes social and political stability. The results are found to be robust to a number of econometric concerns and different measures of quality of education.
Work in Progress
“Degrees of Inequality: Why are there fewer women in undergraduate economics?” with Priyanka Chakraborty
Evidence suggests that women do not major in quantitatively heavy fields to the same degree as their male counterparts. Given this current under-representation of women in such courses across the United States, we attempt to understand the decisions made by students to pursue a major in college. Through a randomized field experiment conducted on the sample of incoming female students to Southern Methodist University in 2016, we test whether information provided matters in women picking a field of study and if so, what kind of information and the mode of dissemination. Women are known to be more social minded than men and may be driven more by intrinsic motivations rather than extrinsic. Alternately, they might be driven by salary expectations in labor market outcomes. Using economics as an example of a math intensive field which records a marked gender gap, we try to capture whether attitudes of women towards their choice of majors are in fact affected by the kind of information they receive about the course and in the process understand the aforementioned preferences and motivations that drive women. Concomitantly, we try to quantify peer influence in driving women’s major choices by varying the source of information.