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.
This came out a little while ago, but has a nice summary of my work with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen on the effectiveness of family planning programs in Ethiopia. You can read the post here.
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.
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.
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.
I really meant to put this up about a month ago, but here we go. The UN recently released the World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision. This predicts that the world's population will be 9.3 billion by 2050 and will eventually reach 10.1 billion by 2100 using their medium variant. The larger increase compared to the revision two years ago is predominantly from slower than expected fertility declines and lower HIV/AIDS mortality. The NY Times has a nice piece about the new projections and you can find the full report here (once it is all available). The press release provides a bit more detail without being overly long. There are two things especially interesting. First, the new projections are the first based on new Bayesian methods developed here at the UW by Adrian Raftery and others. The UW Today has a little article about the work here. Second, it is very timely for my work with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen (both from the World Bank) on the effects of family planning programs in Ethiopia. We show that family planning programs are substantially more effective than what have been found in previous studies. There are two likely reasons for this. First, we focus on the effect by education level and show that the whole effect is concentrated among women with no education. Second, instead of looking at countries that are undergoing rapid economic growth and demographic changes, such as Indonesian or Columbia, we study a poor country where there is little economic growth. We find that the total number of children a woman has declines by 1.2 with access to family planning. The paper is available here.
Mike Toomim and I gave a talk today at Google in Palo Alto on our joint project on using economics to understand users' choice of interfaces and to inform design decisions in human-computer interactions. The title of the talk was "HCI meets Economics" and the slides are available here. The abstract is below:
In 1983, Donald Norman presented the very first paper at the very first meeting of the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) conference, and posed a still open problem: can we scientifically measure and optimize "user satisfaction"? Specifically, can we predict which interfaces users will value and choose to use, before building and deploying a product? Twenty-eight years later, we have yet to find objective measures of an interface's "value" or "user satisfaction."
We present a new method to measure and quantify user choice based on Economics. To understand user behavior we run economic experiments with thousands of humans on the web. We pay users different amounts of money to use different interfaces that accomplish the same task, and determine the monetary amount that an interface variation is worth. For instance, we find that aesthetic changes to an interface significantly changes the amount of money we have to pay. Thus, our approach provides direct measures of user behavior and how much improvements in interfaces are worth to different types of users. This will help designers understand the trade-offs inherent in interface design.
In addition, our methods allows for experiments that were previously not possible in both HCI and Economics. In this talk we explain our method, initial experiments, planned extensions, and the implications for both HCI and Economics.
I am presenting at the labour/development brown bag on Thursday 12 May at 12.30. The title of the talk is "Risk Perception, Health Knowledge, and Sexual Behavior." This is not a paper, but a research agenda with Mark Anderson. It follows partly from our recent paper on drop outs and STDs submitted to Demography. A short abstract for the talk is below.
We will discuss a new research agenda relating to adolescent sexual behavior in the US that we are beginning to work on. The talk will focus on the basics of trying to understand the formation of beliefs in the absence of (practical) experience and how expectations and beliefs change over time with experience and additional information.
Busy March: In addition to the PacDev mentioned below, I presented my work on family planning in Ethiopia at the 25th anniversary conference of the Centre for Studies of African Economies in Oxford and at the Population Association of America's annual meeting in Washington, DC. Mark Anderson and I also had a poster on our paper on the effects of dropping out of high school on sexually transmitted diseases.
Mark Anderson and I just finished a paper looking at one pathway through which dropping out of school might affect future life outcomes. The paper is "Why is Dropping Out of High School Bad? Dropouts and Sexually Transmitted Infections". The abstract for the paper is:
People who drop out of high school fare worse in many aspects of life. We analyze whether there is a causal 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 illustrating 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. These results point to a previously undocumented benefit of encouraging those at risk of dropping out to stay in school longer.
I am heading to Oxford to participate in the CSAE conference. The plenary sessions will be aired live at http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/conferences/2011-EdiA/video.html The program is: Sunday 20 March 2011 14: 30- 16:00 GMT Panel Debate: Research, African Economic Policy and the Role of Private Business
Monday 21 March 2011 8:30 -9:30 GMT Assessing the Millennium Villages Program
Monday 21 March 2011 9:30-10:30 GMT Keynote speech on 'Education as Liberation?' by leading US academic Michael Kremer
Tuesday 22 March 2011 16:30-18:30 GMT Panel Debate: Randomized Controlled Trials or Structural Models (or both... or neither...)?:
I will be presenting my work on family planning in Ethiopia (joint with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen, both from the World Bank). Unfortunately, that will not be aired live ;-).
I presented my paper on family planning in Ethiopia (joint with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaesen, both from the World Bank) at the 8th annual Pacific Conference for Development Economics held at UC Berkeley. I also chaired a session on "Local Economic Shocks and Risk Sharing." As usual the conference was well attended and Ted Miguel did a great job at putting together a very nice conference.