Work in Progress

  Mental Health & Education: Average and Distributional Effects in the Long Run ABSTRACT: 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.
Draft available on Request
with Yanan Li
Revisions Requested, Review of Economics and Statistics

  Parents’ Schooling and Intergenerational Human Capital: Evidence from India ABSTRACT : This paper estimates the direct and intergenerational effects of one of the world’s largest schooling expansion policies. Starting in 1993-94, the District Primary Education Programme (DPEP) constructed over 160,000 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. I then provide evidence of the program’s intergenerational effects – I find that children whose mothers were DPEP beneficiaries had higher scores on math (0.18 S.D.), vernacular (0.19 S.D.) and English (0.09 S.D.) tests. Daughters’ test scores went up by more than 10 to 15 percentage points higher than that of sons. Father’s DPEP exposure had no effect on children’s learning. I find evidence that the intergenerational impacts may be mediated through mother’s increased bargaining power, higher investments in children’s education and better health related behaviors.
[Ideas4India Blog] Draft available on request
Revisions Requested, Journal of Human Resources

  What You Learned by Second Grade Matters- A Comparative Study in Madagascar and Senegal ABSTRACT : 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.
[Paper Draft] | [Old IZA Working Paper]
with Heidi Kaila and David Sahn
Revise & Resubmit (Second Round), Economic Development and Cultural Change

  Health Insurance and Infant Mortality: Evidence from India ABSTRACT : We estimate the causal impact of health insurance in reducing child mortality using a national-level health insurance programme (called RSBY) from India. We employ unique administrative data on the rollout of this policy to implement a difference-in-differences (and event study) approach. We find robust evidence that health insurance provision reduces infant mortality by 1.8 per 1000 births and under-2 mortality rates by 3.4 per 1000 births. This translates into a mortality decline of 5 to 10 percent, thus saving close to 145,000 Indian children annually. Results suggest that families in the lowest income quintile, girl children and children of higher birth parity experience the largest reductions in mortality rates. We show that the results may be driven by increased health investments in the in-utero period (ante-natal care), during child birth (births in hospitals) and post-birth (post-natal care and child immunization). Overall, our paper shows that health insurance, when implemented at-scale, leads to significant reductions in child mortality even in resource poor contexts like India.
New draft coming soon!
with Anaka Aiyar

Decision Fatigue among Primary Care Providers in Sub-Saharan Africa
with Jessica Cohen
Draft in preparation

What Doesn’t Kill Her, Will Make Her Depressed
with Yanan Li
Draft in preparation