What a Difference a Day Makes: Quantifying the Effects of Birth Timing Manipulation on Infant Health joint with Teny M. Shapiro
Journal of Health Economics 33 (2014): 139-158
Scheduling births for non-medical reasons has become an increasingly common practice in the United States and around the world. We exploit a natural experiment created by child tax benefits, which rewards births that occur just before the new year, to better understand the full costs of elective c-sections and inductions. Using data on all births in the U.S. from 1990 to 2000, we first confirm that expectant parents respond to the financial incentives by electing to give birth in December rather than January. We find that most of the manipulation comes from changes in the timing of c-sections. Small birth timing changes, even at full-term, lead to lower birthweight, a lower Apgar score, and an increase in the likelihood of being low birthweight.
Link to Paper
Missed Signals: The Effect of ACT College-Readiness Measures on Educational Attainment joint with Andrew Foote and Teny M. Shapiro
Economics of Education Review 46 (2015): 39-51
In the face of shrinking government budgets and a growing need to train a high-skilled labor force, policymakers have become increasingly interested in cost-effective measures that induce more students to apply to and enroll in college. In this paper, we use a regression discontinuity design to identify the causal effect of students receiving information about their own college-readiness after taking the ACT on their subsequent enrollment and class-taking decisions. Using data from Colorado, where all high school students are required to take the ACT, we find that students who receive information that they are college-ready in a subject are no more likely to attend college than those that do not receive this information. We discuss possible reasons for this finding, such as the lack of visibility or salience of the signal.
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Getting a Sporting Chance: Title IX and the Intergenerational Transmission of Health
Forthcoming in Health Economics (2016)
We know that healthier mothers tend to have healthier infants, but we do not know how much of that relationship reflects the intergenerational transmission of genetic attributes versus environmental influences. From a policy perspective, it is crucial to understand which environmental influences are important, and whether investments in one generation affect outcomes for the next. I use variation in the implementation of Title IX to measure the effects of increased athletic opportunities on the health of infants. Babies born to women with greater athletic opportunities as teenagers have babies that are healthier at birth. They are less likely to be born of low or very low birthweight, and have higher Apgar scores.
Link to Paper
To Graduate or Not to Graduate: Estimating the Value of a High School Degree for Teen Mothers joint with Danielle Sandler
This paper estimates the effect of high school graduation on later life outcomes for young women who have a child as a teenager. Teenage mothers tend to have poor economic outcomes later in life. However, the girls who become teenage mothers come from less advantaged backgrounds than those who delay childbearing, making causality difficult to establish. This paper examines the effect of having a child around the time of high school graduation, comparing young mothers who had their child before their expected graduation date to those who had their child after. Examining this question builds our understanding both of the long run consequences of teenage fertility and the signaling value of a high school diploma. We find that girls who give birth during the school year are 7 percent less likely to graduate from high school; however, this has little effect on their eventual labor market outcomes. Despite being much more likely to obtain a high school degree, the control group does not enjoy higher labor earnings later in life, suggesting that the signaling value of a high school degree is zero for this population.
Link to Paper (with old title)
The Effects of Perceived Disease Risk and Access Costs on Infant Immunization joint with Jessamyn Schaller and Teny M. Shapiro
This paper examines the roles of perceived disease risk and healthcare access costs in influencing parental decisions about infant immunization. Using information on the exact timing of vaccination relative to birth, we estimate the effects of local pertussis outbreaks occurring in-utero and during the first two months of life on the likelihood of on-time initial immunization for pertussis and other diseases. We find that parents of infants respond to changes in perceived disease risk: pertussis outbreaks within a state increase the rate of on-time receipt of the pertussis vaccine at two months of age. This response is larger for children most likely to delay immunization for economic reasons. In addition, we find that parents also increase the likelihood of immunizing their children against other vaccine-preventable diseases. These spillover effects are similar in magnitude to the direct effects, which suggests that access costs play a significant role in parents' vaccination decisions.
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Maternal Sleep and Infant Health Outcomes joint with Teny M. Shapiro
Work in Progress
Estimating the Health Impacts of WIC: A Regression Discontinuity Approach (with Marianne Bitler, Janet Currie, Hilary Hoynes and Barton Willage)
Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg Research & Evaluation Project (with M. Lori Thomas, Joanne Carman, Ashley Clark and Justin Lane)
The Effects of Maternal Education on Infant and Maternal Health: New Causal Evidence (with Ji Yan)