Work In Progress

Parents' Schooling and Intergenerational Human Capital: Evidence from India

Revisions Submitted, Journal of Human Resources

This paper estimates the direct and intergenerational effects of one of the world’s largest school expansion policies. Starting in 1993-94, the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) constructed over 100,000 new schools and served over 50 million children in India. Using a fuzzy regression discontinuity design I show that the policy increased enrollment, literacy and years of education for both male and female direct beneficiaries. Further, I find that children whose mothers were DPEP beneficiaries had higher scores on vernacular (18 percent), math (13 percent), and English (15 percent) tests, while Father’s DPEP exposure had no effect on children’s learning.

Ideas4India blog

Education and Mental Health in Africa

with Fjolla Kondirolli

Conditionally Accepted, Health Economics

Please write to me at nsunder@bentley.edu for more details. Thanks!

What You Learned by Second Grade Matters - A Comparative Study in Madagascar and Senegal

with Heidi Kalia and David Sahn

Revisions Requested, Journal of African Economies

We study the determinants of human capital outcomes of young adults in Madagascar and Senegal, employing a production function approach. Using unique and comparable long-term panel data sets from both countries, which span more than 15 years, we find that test scores in second grade are strong predictors of school attainment and French/math skills of individuals in their early twenties. The association between second-grade skills and later-life outcomes is stronger among girls than boys, and likewise, stronger for math than French test scores. These findings highlight the importance of not falling behind during early school years, as it can lead to worse long-term outcomes, particularly for vulnerable groups like girls. We also find that height, a proxy measure of childhood health and nutritional status, does not affect the magnitude and significance of early childhood test scores, and also has an independent effect on young adult test scores in Senegal.

Mental Health and Education: Average and Distributional Effects in the Long Run

with Yanan Li

Submitted

In 1986, China implemented a Compulsory Schooling Law (CSL) which made it mandatory for all school age children to complete nine years of education. We use the temporal and geographic variation in the implementation of this law in a regression discontinuity design to estimate its effect on long-term psychological well-being of beneficiaries. Our results indicate that beneficiary cohorts had 0.6 years of additional education. Almost three decades later, these cohorts scored around two points (16 percent of the mean) lower on a clinical measure of depression, while they were 19 p.p. (65 percent of the mean) less likely to be depressed (severe mental distress). This disproportionate effect on the probability of being depressed is because of the relatively large impact of the CSL policy on people with worse mental health – we establish this through a variety of distributional analyses. Also, we find that women and rural residents show higher gains, both in educational and psychological well-being. The mental health effects plausibly operate through improved physical health and positive assortative matching in the marriage market. These findings add to the evidence on the positive effect of education on health outcomes by bringing forth novel evidence of mental health benefits in a developing country context.

Health Insurance and Infant Mortality: Evidence from India

with Anaka Aiyar

Submitted

Recent evidence from low- and middle-income countries on the effect of health insurance provision on child health provide mixed results. We bring novel evidence based on a national health insurance policy in India. We leverage the temporal and spatial variation in policy implementation to demonstrate that programme regions had lower rates of infant mortality (5 percent). The effects are largely concentrated among girls and infants in poorer households. The observed findings are plausibly driven by increases in usage of maternal and child health related services. Since a majority of these services are ubiquitously available and are free (or highly subsidized) in India, our findings indicate that provision of health insurance can alleviate budgetary constraints imposed by miscellaneous expenses associated with accessing health services.

Obesity-Education Gradient among Women: Evidence from two African countries

with Averi Chakrabarti

Submitted

For more details, contact me at nsunder@bentley.edu

Decision Fatigue among Primary Care Providers in Sub-Saharan Africa

with Jessica Cohen and Wei Chang

In preparation

Please write to me at nsunder@bentley.edu for more details. Thanks!

For the latest drafts of any paper, please contact me at nsunder@bentley.edu. Thank you!