Sara, Raisa Tasnim (2020-04). Essays in Applied Microeconomics. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This dissertation introduces three essays using quasi-experimental methods to examine the effects of the long term impact of civil conflict on crime and the impact of labor market conditions and policy interventions on household well-being. The first essay examines the effect of exposure to conflict-induced violent incidents during childhood on the decision to engage in criminal activity in the long term. The second essay evaluates the impact of a government policy targeted towards the victims of domestic violence in Peru on the health and cognitive development of children under the age of five. The last essay looks at how closing the earnings gap between women and men in the local labor market affects gender-based violence using a shift-share instrument approach. All three essays use data from Peru. First, in the 1980s, Peru was marred by a gruesome civil conflict that persisted for over a decade. In the first essay, "Civil conflict and later life crime" I look at the impact of exposure to conflict at different stages of childhood on criminal activity later in life. To identify effects, I exploit the temporal and geographic variation in the spread of the war across Peru. Using the birth year and birth location information from the 2016 national penitentiary population census and the 2015-2017 national household survey data, I estimate how exposure to war during different ages affects long-term criminal behavior. I find evidence that exposure to conflict during primary school ages for men increases their probability of incarceration in adulthood. Unlike other evidences on the long-term impacts of war, in utero exposure does not seem to explain criminal behavior in later life in this context. Second, maternal contribution in the nurture and growth of their children is indispensable. However, they may be faced with unfavorable situations that can adversely affect the children. One such common and pervasive problem is domestic violence. Peru, as a country with one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world, introduced Women's Emergency Centers (WEC) that were found to be effective in reducing domestic violence towards women. In the second essay, "Maternal condition and child well-being", we examine whether a program targeted towards the victims of domestic violence can impact the cognitive and health outcome of children. We find evidence that exposure to the WEC within 2 km of the household improves the health outcomes of children under the age of five in terms of their weight-for-age z-scores, wasting and underweight. We also find some evidence that access to these centers improve the cognitive development of children in terms of their symbolic function. The improvement in the health outcomes is posited to be driven by reduction in the probability of experiencing domestic violence of the mothers with closer proximity to the Women's Emergency Centers. We also find evidence that maternal-child attachment improves with exposure to these centers. This is consistent with maternal involvement being impaired by domestic violence. Finally, despite the substantial implications of increased female labor market opportunities for women, relatively less is known about the impact of improved outside option for women on domestic violence, especially in the context of developing countries. Economic theory on household bargaining model predicts that better outside options for women should reduce the level of domestic abuse through greater bargaining power. In the third essay, "The Many faces of abuse: labor market opportunities and domestic violence on women", we exploit the exogenous variation in labor demand induced by differing gender composition across industries to show the impact of changes in the relative labor market condition for women on various forms of abuse. Using nine waves of Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) from Peru, we find evidence of lower psychological and emotional abuse with improvement in the labor ma

publication date

  • April 2020