Essays on Empirical Development Economics: Education, Health and Gender
Abstract: This thesis consists of three empirical essays in development economics on education, health and gender."Income Shocks and Gender Gaps in Education: Evidence from Uganda" uses exogenous variation in rainfall across districts in Uganda to estimate the causal effects of household income shocks on children's enrollment and cognitive skills conditional on gender. Adverse income shocks have large negative effects on female enrollment and test scores, while boys are only marginally affected. The results imply that households respond to income shocks by varying the quantity and quality of girls' education while boys are to a large extent sheltered."Does Money Matter for Student Performance? Evidence from a Grant Program in Uganda" assesses the effect on student performance of an untied public grant in the education sector. To capture the causal effect of the grant, I exploit the variation in program exposure introduced by a newspaper campaign aimed at boosting schools' and parents' ability to monitor local officials' handling of the grant program. The newspaper campaign was successful, but since newspaper penetration varies greatly across districts, the exposure to information about the program, and thus funding, differed across districts. I use this variation to study the effect of increased funding on student test scores and find significant and quantitatively important effects."Power to the People: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of a Citizen Report Card Project in Uganda" presents the results of a randomized evaluation of a community-based monitoring intervention intended to enhance rural communities' ability to hold primary health care providers accountable. The intervention improved both the quality and the quantity of health service provision in the treatment communities: One year into the program, average utilization increased by 16 percent, the weight of infants increased and the number of deaths among children under-five fell markedly. The results suggest that the health unit staff increased their effort to serve the community in light of better community monitoring.
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