Huaroto, Noelia Ruth Paez (2011-10). Two Essay in Labor and Public Economics. Doctoral Dissertation.
This dissertation studies the effects of female labor market participation on fertility spacing in U.S., and the impact of special language programs on academic achievement of English language learners in Texas public schools. The first essay studies the relationship between labor market participation and childbirth spacing. I construct a simple dynamic discrete-choice model to theoretically develop several implications. My model's key prediction is that while continuously working women would like to smooth the stream of children (longer spacing), those who transitorily drop out of the labor force would want to do the opposite (shorter spacing). Empirically testing the predictions of the model requires a serious effort to deal with endogeneity of the labor market participation around the time of the births. I propose to use a set of simulated marginal tax schedules and unemployment rate as instruments for labor market participation. Using National Longitudinal Survey Youth (NLSY) data I find that the current participation effect is positive and motivates working women to delay the second birth three to five years, while the future participation effect is negative and encourages women who transitorily drop out of the labor force due to childbearing to have their second child one to two years earlier. These participation effects on spacing become stronger with fewer years of education, lower non labor income, lower complete fertility, and early motherhood. The second essay studies the impact of special language programs on academic achievement of English language learners in Texas public schools. A considerable proportion of Hispanic students are classified as English Language Learners (ELL) and might have difficulty performing ordinary classwork in English. There is evidence that students designated as ELL are considerably behind the rest of the student population with respect to meeting the proficiency requirements under No Child Left Behind. Using student-level TAKS testing data and campus-level data for years 2003-2009, I study the effects of Bilingual and ESL programs on academic achievement of Texas public school students. Program effects are identified by following achievement gains of several cohorts of students across grade, using individual and school fixed effects. Results show that academic performance of ELL students improves with bilingual program participation. Bilingual effects on achievements gains in the reading test are higher for English language learners (between 0.08 and 0.15 standards deviations); bilingual effect in reading is greater than in math; and bilingual effect in sixth grade exceeds the bilingual effect in fourth and fifth grades. There is also evidence that changing programs from bilingual to ESL or from bilingual to regular can result in lower achievements grades.