Essays in development and labor economics [Kenya].
Author: Mbiti, Isaac M
Awarding University: Brown University, USA
Level : PhD
Chapter 1 examines the relationship between labor markets and marriage markets in India. Using a unique panel dataset that is representative of rural India, I estimate the effect of increases in the value of female labor on women's marriage market outcomes. Female labor is more valuable in rice farming than wheat farming. I exploit rainfall shocks across rice farming households and wheat farming households to identify the effect of female labor productivity on the marriage market. Consistent with a model of imperfect markets for female labor, I find that increases in female labor productivity decrease the marriage rate of females and decrease the dowries paid out by the bride's family, indicating a rise in the bargaining power of the bride's family during dowry negotiations. Chapter 2 examines the black-white employment gaps during recessions. Previous research has shown that unemployment rates of blacks are substantially higher than that of whites, especially during recessions. However, the extent to which these differences reflect unobserved skills or other factors such as discrimination remains a matter of debate. We use wages earned in the previous year as a measure of a worker's productivity. Conditioning on wages, we find that the unemployment gap between blacks and white falls slightly, consistent with the view that some of the difference arises from unmeasured productivity difference between the races. Chapter 3 investigates the effect of school quality on student achievement in Kenya. I utilize data from the Kenyan secondary school system to obtain causal estimates of the effects of school quality on student achievement. The placement of students into government secondary schools in Kenya is based primarily on primary school test scores. I utilize the random variation induced by this system to isolate the treatment effect of school quality on subsequent student performance in the national high school examination. I find that boys attending Elite Public schools achieved significant increases in their test scores, especially in Mathematics and Sciences. However, I did not find any significant effect for girls. I argue that this disparity is driven by differential resource allocation to boys schools relative to girls schools.