Date of Degree

9-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Economics

Advisor

Prabal K De

Advisor

Wim P.M. Vijverberg

Committee Members

Jonathan Conning

Subject Categories

Economics

Abstract

This dissertation consists of three chapters.

Chapter 1: Immigration Policy Shocks and Infant Health

This paper evaluates the effect of positive and negative immigration policy shocks on infant health outcomes in the U.S. I examine changes in mean birth weight and the incidence of low birth weight (LBW) at the metropolitan statistical area (MSA) level around two major institutional shocks: The 1986 Immigration Reform Act (IRCA), which favored immigrants, and the increase in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency arrests at the start of 2017 which might have put immigrants at greater risk of apprehension. It uses a triple difference approach, comparing birth outcomes of foreign-born mothers with U.S.-born mothers (relative to mothers living in MSAs with a higher and lower concentration of IRCA applications and an increase in ICE arrests) before and after the two immigration policies. I find that in MSAs that had higher IRCA applications, mean birth weight increased, and the incidence of LBW decreased by 3-6 percent for babies born to foreign-born mothers. By contrast, in MSAs that had higher ICE arrests starting in 2017, mean birth weight decreased, and the incidence of LBW increased by 3-7 percent for babies born to foreign-born mothers. The effect of the increase in ICE arrests was more pronounced among mothers who were born in Latin and Central American countries. Sub-sample analysis shows that the incidence of LBW increased by as much as 12 percent for babies born to foreign-born mothers of Hispanic origin.

Chapter 2: Cash-based Maternal Health Interventions Can Improve Childhood Vaccination - Evidence from India

Childhood vaccination has lagged in countries like India, despite its demonstrated positive effects on health outcomes like infant mortality. At the same time, many Conditional Cash Transfer programs have been effective in improving health outcomes. We estimate the effect of the world’s largest maternal health program, Janani Surakhsa Yojana (JSY, Maternal Protection Scheme), on childhood vaccination in India. We exploit exogenous variations in the expansion of the policy around the country and the fact that some key vaccines are given at or near birth to identify the effects of cash-based maternal health policy on infant immunization. We find that JSY increased the probability of BCG and DPT vaccination among newborns and infants. However, we find almost no significant effects on the measles vaccine, which is administered several months after birth.

Chapter 3: Political Connections and Household Welfare: Evidence from India

Using nationally represented survey data from India, this paper estimates the effect of knowing a politician on household welfare by first looking at the household's ability to capture public welfare programs, followed by jobs prospect of the household members. To rule out the potential endogeneity, household's acquaintance to politicians is instrumented with percentage of household within each village that are member of Self-Help Groups (SHGs). I propose that higher prevalence of SHGs in the village, a traditional micro money lending scheme in India, increases the probability of knowing a politician. Results show that knowing a politician in local level vastly improves the chances of a household to obtain welfare programs like ration cards and insurance cards. Similarly, members of households that know a politician at the state and federal level are more likely to have a government job and less likely to work as daily wage labors.

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