Essays in Labor and Demographic Economics

Abstract: Essay 1: (co-written with Olof Åslund) We study the impact of family size on intermediate and long-term outcomes using twin births as an exogenous source of varia¬tion in family size in an unusually rich dataset. Similar to recent studies, we find no evidence of a causal effect on long-term outcomes and show that not taking selection effects into account will likely overstate the effects. We do, however, find a small but significant negative impact of family size on grades in compulsory and secondary school among children who are likely to be vulnerable to further restrictions on parental investments. Essay 2: This paper investigates the consequences of a series of Swedish policy changes beginning in 1989 where different regions started subsidizing the birth control pill. The reforms were significant and applied to all types of oral contraceptives. My identification strategy takes advantage of the fact that the reforms were implemented successively over time and targeted specific cohorts of young women, in particular teenagers. This generates plausibly exogenous variation in access to the subsidy. I first demonstrate that access significantly increased pill use. Using regional, temporal, and cohort variation in access, I then go on to examine the impact on abortions. The estimates show that the subsidy significantly decreased the abortion rate by about 8 percent. Furthermore, the results indicate that long-term access decreases the likelihood of teenage childbearing by about 20 percent. However, there is no significant effect on labor supply, marriage, educational attainment or welfare take-up. Essay 3: (co-written with Olof Åslund, Per-Anders Edin and Peter Fredriksson) We study peer effects in compulsory school performance among immigrant youth in Sweden. The empirical analysis exploits a governmental refugee placement policy that provides exogenous variation in the initial place of residence in Sweden; and it is based on tightly defined neighborhoods. There is tentative evidence that the share of immigrants in the neighborhood has a negative effect on GPA. But the main result is that, for a given share of immigrants in a neighborhood, the presence of highly educated peers of the same ethnicity has a positive effect on school grades. The results suggest that a standard deviation increase in the fraction of highly educated adults in the assigned neighborhood increases the compulsory school GPA by 0.9 percentile ranks. This magnitude corresponds roughly to a tenth of the gap in student performance between refugee immigrant and native born children. Essay 4: This paper investigates the consequences of residential segregation for immigrants’ health. To this end, I make use of a rich dataset covering the entire Swedish population age 16–74 from 1987 to 2004. The dataset contains annual information on the exact diagnosis for all individuals admitted to Swedish hospitals, as well as a wide range of individual background characteristics. It is however difficult to identify the causal link between segregation and health since individuals might sort across residential areas based on unobserved characteristics related to health. To deal with this methodological problem I exploit a governmental refugee placement policy which provides plausibly exogenous variation in segregation. The OLS estimates show a statistically significant positive correlation between segregation and the probability of hospitalization. Estimates that account for omitted variables are however in general statistically insignificant.