Well - it was bound to happen at one point!

I finally caved and got myself a twitter account. You can see my tweets on the right or you can follow me by using this link:

New version of paper on the causal effects of dropping out of high school

Mark Anderson and I just finished revising our paper on high school dropouts and sexually transmitted infections. It has a new title: "High School Dropouts and Sexually Transmitted Infections". You can find the new version here.

People who drop out of high school fare worse in many aspects of life. We analyze whether there is an effect of dropping out of high school on the probability of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI). Previous studies on the relationship between dropout status and sexual outcomes have not empirically addressed self-selection effects. Using individual fixed effects estimations we find strong evidence that dropping out increases the risk of contracting an STI for females. Furthermore, we present evidence that illustrates differences between the romantic partners of dropouts versus enrolled students. These differences suggest that female dropouts may be more susceptible to contracting STIs because they partner with significantly different types of people than non-dropouts. Our results point to a previously undocumented benefit of encouraging those at risk of dropping out to stay in school longer.

Shamma Alam named 2012 Hewlett Foundation / IIE Dissertation Fellow

Shamma Alam has been named as one of the seven 2012 Hewlett Foundation / IIE Dissertation Fellows. These fellowships support dissertation research on topics that examine how population dynamics, family planning and reproductive health influence economic development, including economic growth, poverty reduction, and equity. Shamma and I are currently working on a paper examining the effects of income shocks on timing of fertility and use of contraceptives in Tanzania. Shamma has also worked as my RA on my NSF grant. The official announcement and short bio of Shamma and the other recipients is here.

International Development Internship Program (IDIP) at Seattle University

This announcement from Joe Philips, Dean of Albers School of Business and Economics, is mainly of interest for students at Seattle University:

We are pleased to announce that the university’s International Development Internship Program (IDIP) will become part of the Albers School starting this academic year. Dr. Janet Quillian, who has directed the program since it started in 2001, will be joining the Albers School as part of our faculty, having served on the SU faculty since 1995. Janet’s disciplinary background is in nursing, with her undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada, master’s from Texas Women’s University, and doctorate from the University of Texas.

If you are not already familiar with IDIP, it is truly one of the most distinctive programs at SU, offering undergraduate students from across the campus an opportunity to work with an NGO in emerging economies in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. A brief description of the program on the program website says:

The International Development Internship Program (IDIP) is a 20 credit, three-phase academic program designed for undergraduate students. Students are challenged to explore the root causes and consequences of situations that undermine the well-being of individuals in the developing world. The goal of the IDIP Program is to instill in students a lifelong commitment to the Jesuit mission of service and promotion of social justice. Internships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are available in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

For more information on IDIP, check out the current website: http://www.seattleu.edu/IDIP/Inner.aspx?id=25084

Visit to Bergen

I was in Bergen in June and presented my work with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen on the effects of family planning on fertility at CMI and my work with Shamma Alam on income shocks and timing of fertility at Norwegian School of Economics. A new version of the family planning paper will be available soon and we should have the first public version of the timing of fertility paper ready soon as well.

CSDE seminar on 6 April

I will be presenting Shamma Alam and my work on shocks and timing of fertility in Tanzania tomorrow (Friday 6 April) at the CSDE seminar series. There is no finished paper yet, but the abstract is below. Income Shocks, Contraceptive Use, and Timing of Fertility

This paper examines the relationship between household income shocks and fertility decisions. Using panel data from Tanzania, we estimate the impact of agricultural shocks on contraception use, pregnancy, and the likelihood of childbirth. To account for unobservable household characteristics that potentially affect both shocks and fertility decisions we employ an fixed effects model. Households significantly increase their contraception use in response to income shocks from crop loss. This comes from an increased use of both traditional contraceptive methods and modern contraceptives. The poorer the household the stronger the effect of income shock on contraceptive use is. Furthermore, pregnancies and childbirth are significantly delayed for households experiencing a crop shock. For both pregnancy and childbirth the likelihood of delay because of shocks increases the poorer the household. We argue that the changes in behavior are the result of deliberate decisions of the households rather than income shocks’ effects on other factors that influence fertility, such as women’s health status, the absence or migration of spouse, and dissolution of partnerships.

Presented Gone with the Wind? paper at the CSAE Conference 2012: Economic Development in Africa

I was in Oxford in March for the 2012 CSAE Conference: Economic Development in Africa. I presented my paper on the impact of hurricane risk on fertility and education decisions. The conference was great and the quality of the papers continues to increase. You can find the latest version of the paper under "Research" on this website. A full program can be found here.

Ethiopia family planning paper selected for World Bank research group monthly research highlights for October

My paper on family planning programs in Ethiopia, joint with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaesen, was selected for the October Development Research Group Monthly Research Highlight. The paper is World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 5812 and you can find it through SSRN or the World Bank.

Literacy paper out in Economic Development and Cultural Change

Niels-Hugo Blunch and my paper, "Literacy, Skills, and Welfare: Effects of Participation in Adult Literacy Programs," is out in this issue of EDCC, vol 60(1): 17-66. You can find the published version on JSTOR, at http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/661219. It is rather long, 50 pages, but worth the read if you are interested in literacy programs.

New version of "Family Planning and Fertility: Estimating Program Effects using Cross-sectional Data"

We (Kathleen Beegle, Luc Christiaensen and I) have just finished revising our paper on the effects of family planning on fertility in Ethiopia. You can find the new version, which has been submitted to a journal, here. The abstract is:

Although reproductive health advocates consider family planning programs the intervention of choice to reduce fertility, there remains a great deal of scepticism among economists as to their effectiveness, despite little rigorous evidence to support either position. This study explores the effects of family planning in Ethiopia using a novel set of instruments to control for potential non-random program placement. The instruments are based on ordinal rankings of area characteristics, motivated by competition between areas for resources. Access to family planning is found to reduce completed fertility by more than 1 child among women without education. No effect is found among women with some formal schooling, suggesting that family planning and formal education act as substitutes, at least in this low income, low growth setting. This provides support to the notion that increasing access to family planning can provide an important, complementary entry point to kick-start the process of fertility reduction.