Alexandria Digital Research Library

Three essays in applied microeconomics

Canaan, Serena Patricia
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Department of Economics
Degree Supervisor:
Olivier Deschenes and Peter Kuhn
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Economic theory
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2016

This thesis includes three papers in applied microeconomics. The first paper examines how providing long periods of paid parental leave affects parents' labor market decisions and children's well-being. The second study, co-authored with Pierre Mouganie, documents the labor market returns to quality of higher education for low-achieving students. The last paper looks at the effects of postponing middle school tracking on students' long term labor market outcomes.

Chapter 1 abstract: This paper examines the impacts of a long duration of paid parental leave on parents' labor market decisions and children's outcomes. I leverage a French program that provided recipients with three years of partially paid leave conditional on being out of the labor market or working part-time. Initially, the program was reserved for parents of three children and more. On July 25, 1994, benefits were extended to parents whose second child was born on or after July 1, 1994. For identification, I use a regression discontinuity design based on the second child's date of birth cutoff. I find that mothers decrease their labor force participation in the three years following the birth of a second child. Fathers' response is heterogeneous. Well educated men increase their weekly hours of work, while some less educated fathers are more likely to work part-time. The policy has no effect on children's health but harms their verbal skills at age 6.

Chapter 2 abstract: This paper studies the labor market returns to quality of higher education for low-skilled students. Using a regression discontinuity design, we compare students who marginally pass and marginally fail the French high school exit exam from the first attempt. Threshold crossing leads to an improvement in the quality, but has no effect on the quantity of higher education pursued. Specifically, students who marginally pass are more likely to enroll in STEM majors and universities with better peers. Further, marginally passing increases earnings by 13.6 percent at the age of 27 to 29. Our findings show that low-skilled students experience large gains from having the opportunity to access higher quality postsecondary education.

Chapter 3 abstract: Many countries separate students into achievement-based school tracks. Proponents of tracking argue that it provides students with an education that is tailored to their skills, while critics contend that it widens initial learning gaps. This paper studies the impacts of postponing middle school tracking on education and labor market outcomes. I focus on the French educational system where students were divided-- at approximately age 11-- into tracks with extremely different learning environments. I exploit a reform which delayed tracking by allowing students to pursue two extra years of common education. My results indicate that the reform benefits students by allowing them to obtain a higher level of qualifications but has no effect on earnings measured at ages 26 to 34.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (176 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Serena Canaan
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