Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation consists of three essays related to the field of economics of education. In chapter 2, using data from middle school students in China and exploiting the random assignment of students to classrooms within schools, I investigate the causal effect of peer groups on students’ scholastic achievement. I find that female student proportion in the classroom positively affects male students’ test scores and that the education level of peers’ parents improves the academic achievement of both male and female students. Students with highly-educated parents benefit more from classmates with higher parental education compared to students with relatively lower parental education. Investigation of mechanisms reveals that the peer effects can in part be explained by peers’ academic quality, classroom atmosphere, and behaviors of students’ classroom friends. Chapter 3 examines the causal impact of female education on fertility utilizing the Universal Primary Education (UPE) program in Malawi as a source of exogenous variation in schooling attainment. The results show that the UPE policy improved rural women’s educational attainment by 0.42 years and that an additional year of female education decreased women’s number of children ever born and living children by 0.39 and 0.33, respectively. An analysis of potential mechanisms suggests that the decreased fertility rates are driven by the reduction in women’s desired number of children, postponement of marriage and motherhood. There is no evidence that increased female education affects the characteristics of husband, women’s labor force participation, or modern contraceptive use. In chapter 4, I investigate the causal effect of maternal education on child mortality in Indonesia by using the one-time change in the length of the 1978 school year as a source of exogenous variation in education. The results show that the education reform increases women’s educational attainment by 0.82 years and an additional year of female education leads to a decrease in neonatal mortality by 0.8 percentage points. Mechanisms analysis suggests that higher female education postpones the timing of marriage and first birth, leads to higher quality of spouse and higher household wealth, and increases the use of prenatal health care and mass media.



Committee Chair

Mocan, Naci



Included in

Economics Commons