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Essays on human capital interventions in developing countries

Umapathi, N.; (2009) Essays on human capital interventions in developing countries. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

In the first chapter, co-authored with Emanuela Galasso, we evaluate an original large-scale intervention in Madagascar (SEECALINE) that focuses on promoting correct breast-feeding, complementary feeding and hygiene practices. We find that the program helped 0-5 year old children, in the participating communities to bridge their gap in weight-for-age z-score and the incidence of underweight. The program also had significant effects in protecting height-for-age and reducing the incidence of stunting. We also show that SEECALINE can have very different effects on the anthropometric status of children, depending on the educational level of the mother. We find that the program improved height-for-age only for children whose mothers had at least secondary level education. We propose an explanation based on interaction effects between proxies of birth conditions and maternal education. More educated mothers meet the necessary conditions that reinforce the behavioral change enabling program effects. We provide evidence that access to public health facilities during birth and early childhood is necessary for translating behavioral change into improvements in children‟s health status. Chapter 1 leaves the question of differential take-up by maternal education unanswered. The heterogeneous effects could be due to lack of adoption of practices by the least educated mothers. In the second chapter I apply difference-in-difference and propensity score weighting techniques to identify causal impact of the program availability on behavioral change and show that least educated mothers adopted the recommended practices. This complements the evidence presented in chapter 1 that although improved knowledge of child-care may be necessary it is not sufficient to translate into improvements in nutritional outcomes. In the third chapter co-authored with Emanuela Galasso and Jeffrey Yau, we estimate the returns to differential lengths of exposure to SEECALINE. We address this question using information available only on program participants. To that end, we develop a methodology that circumvents this data hurdle and estimate returns to differential lengths of exposure using administrative data. We find that the differential returns are decreasing over time, though they do not dissipate to zero. These results provide suggestive evidence that the returns to the program reflect learning effects from the intervention.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Essays on human capital interventions in developing countries
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Economics

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