Essays in Family Economics
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This dissertation considers how families affect economic decisions across two different settings. In Chapters 2 and 3, I use data from Indonesia to understand the role that flexibility plays in job choice for women and how it interacts with children. These chapters take different approaches to the same broad set of questions. In Chapter 2 I ask whether the cost of temporal flexibility varies between wage employment and self-employment, especially for mothers. I find all women are willing to give up a portion of their wage rate to work fewer hours and have more flexible hours. However, the cost to women of fewer hours and more flexible hours varies by whether a woman is self-employed or wage employed and whether she has children. All self-employed women and wage-working mothers are willing to give up more than 10% of their wages for a 10% increase in flexibility but the trade-off is steeper for mothers in wage employment than in self-employment. In Chapter 3, I use qualitative in-depth interviews to better understand the nuances that go into work decisions for both women and men and how these choices affect and are affected by their children. This study echoes the first in that women often discussed the importance of flexibility in their work arrangements, in particular to their choices in self-employment. These findings have implications for policies and programs designed to foster entrepreneurship in developing countries. Chapter 4 asks questions about how parents provide for children- albeit in a very different context. Using panel data from the United States, the paper examines the influence of parental wealth and income on children's college attendance and parental financing decisions, graduation, and quality of college attended, and whether parental financing affects the subsequent indebtedness of parents and children. Higher levels of parents' wealth and income increase the likelihood that children attend college with financial support relative to not attending college, and that parental wealth increases the likelihood that children graduate from college. We show descriptive evidence that parental support for college increases the subsequent level of housing debt that parents hold but does not reduce student debt for children.
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