Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



First Adviser

Chou, Shin-Yi

Other advisers/committee members

Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex; Hyclak, Thomas; Qian, Mengcen


This dissertation explores the health and labor market effects of spousal and parental choices. First chapter of this dissertation studies international marriages in Europe. The effect of international marriage - a union between a country native and an immigrant - on social and family outcomes is endogenous due to the selection into marriage markets and non-random spousal choice. In this paper I use European Union membership and availability of cheap travel as region-specific instrumental variables that increased the probability of intermarriage in Europe. The two-stage least squares analysis applied to 1977-2006 IPUMS International Project Census micro data shows no significant difference in the family size or number of children between intermarried and same-nativity couples. However, it does reveal higher labor force participation rates and much lower marriage rates among mixed nationality couples. In the second chapter, I use Russia’s 1981-82 maternity benefit expansion to estimate the long-run effects of maternity leave on health and other outcomes of children. The program was rolled out in stages and has extended both partially paid and unpaid leave for the vast majority of women. To estimate the effects of the program I apply a difference-in-differences framework to the recent 2000-2014 Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey data that contain information on both affected and unaffected cohorts, while also taking advantage of the fact that not all regions implemented the program simultaneously. While the results suggest there is no difference in the overall health of individuals that are born before and after the benefit roll-out, there is strong evidence that those born after the reform are less likely to have chronic gastrointestinal diseases, which could be attributed to better nutrition and breastfeeding duration in the first year of life.Third chapter proposes a new way to estimate the effect of maternal labor supply on the achievement of children. I use a country-specific measure of gender inequality as an instrumental variable for the female immigrant’s decision to work. For the married women in the New Immigrant Survey, higher values of the Gender Inequality Index were positively correlated with the propensity to work for pay and work longer hours, suggesting their self-selection into the US immigration. ¬¬Two-stage estimates further show that children of working mothers have reading and math scores that are over one standard deviation above average. An additional 10 hours a week of maternal work is estimated to increase reading scores by 37% relative to mean and quantitative reasoning scores by 24% relative to the mean. I also find that working mothers visit their children’s classes and attend school meetings more frequently than others; hence, the observed improvement in test scores could be due to a higher involvement of parents in their child’s school curriculum.

Included in

Economics Commons