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Essays in Development Economics


I study three separate questions in this dissertation. In Chapter 1, I investigate the extent to which credit and insurance market constraints affect occupational choice in rural Kenya. Using data I collected on individuals' subjective beliefs about the returns, costs, and risks associated with the occupations they typically choose from, I find that insurance market constraints prevent people from entering into high-profit but also high-risk occupations. In contrast, I do not find any evidence that credit market failures affect this choice. In Chapter 2, we conduct a randomized experiment to provide improved access to formal financial services in Western Kenya. We find low take-up and use of savings accounts and loans even after we waived account opening fees, provided information about loans, and lowered eligibility requirements to get credit. Survey evidence suggests people remain unbanked mainly due to the poor quality of banking services offered in the area (high fees, lack of trust, and unreliable service). In Chapter 3, I examine the effect of women's education on fertility and child health outcomes in Uganda. Women who get additional schooling reduce their preferences for family size: they delay the onset of fertility and reduce the total number of children they have overall. At the same time, mothers with more education invest more in their children's health and their children are better nourished. I find evidence that this child quantity-quality trade-off is driven by educated women's improved employment opportunities. In addition, schooling helps women exert more control over their reproductive lives. However, I find no evidence that more educated women increase bargaining power over other household decisions.

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