Title page for ETD etd-05162011-094742

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Cannonier, Colin Darren
Author's Email Address ccanno5@lsu.edu, colin.cannonier@gmail.com
URN etd-05162011-094742
Title Essays in Health Economics and Public Policy
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Economics
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Mocan, Naci Committee Chair
Gittings, R. Kaj Committee Member
Newman, Robert J. Committee Member
Unel, Bulent Committee Member
Tuuri, Georgianna Dean's Representative
  • Sierra Leone
  • Instrumental variables
  • difference-in-differences
  • maternity leave
Date of Defense 2011-04-26
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation consists of three essays analyzing the role of public policy in affecting such outcomes as fertility, educational attainment and women’s preferences towards fertility and sexual activity.

First, I investigate how a government educational policy affected the fertility behavior of teenagers in the United States. Specifically, Title V State Abstinence Education (SAE) program appropriates funding to states for the purpose of educating minors on abstinence before marriage. Using state level data to analyze the impact of abstinence education on the birth rates for teens; I find that for an average state, increasing spending by $50,000 per year on state abstinence education can help avoid approximately four births to teenagers.

Next, I examine the fertility impact of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which was implemented in August 1993, is a federal reform requiring firms of a certain size in all states to grant job-protected leave to any employee satisfying certain eligibility criteria. One of the provisions of the FMLA is to allow women to stay at home for a maximum period of 12 weeks to give care to the new born. Using data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79) this study analyzes whether the FMLA has influenced birth outcomes in the U.S. over the period 1989 to 2006. I find that eligible women increase the probability of giving a first and second birth by about 6 and 4.2 percentage points, respectively. Compared to other women, eligible women are giving birth to the first child 11 months earlier and about 6 months earlier for the second child.

In the final part of this research, I estimate the impact of schooling on preferences among women. I first analyze the effect of a government policy that provides free primary education on completed schooling. From this investigation, I find that increased schooling changes a woman’s preference for the demand for children, delays the start of first sexual encounter and increases the use of modern contraceptives. Increased education has also empowered women.

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