Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Charles Courtemanche

Second Advisor

Dr. Rusty Tchernis

Third Advisor

Dr. Barry T. Hirsch

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Robert D. Latzman

Abstract

This dissertation contains three essays. They explore the potential policies that can help maternal employment and its heterogeneous effects on adolescent's risky health behaviors. The first essay examines the relationship between working from home and the time parents spend on childcare. This study uses data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) to investigate a potential solution to the side effects of maternal employment: working from home. Parents who work from home contribute significantly more time to child-care activities than parents working outside the home. Working from home offsets the reduction in total primary-child-care time associated with maternal and paternal employment and secondary childcare contributes the most to the increase of child-care time. Using the amount of selection on the observables as a guide to the amount of selection on the unobservables, I find a robust association between working from home and the time parents spend child-care time.

The second essay is to investigate the heterogeneous effects (in terms of adolescents' personalities) of maternal employment on adolescents’ risky health behaviors. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), I examine whether the effects of maternal employment are greater on less conscientious, more neurotic, or more extroverted adolescents. OLS estimates show that maternal employment has more adverse effects on less conscientious adolescents and extroverted adolescents in terms of smoking days. More neurotic and less neurotic children respond similarly. Individual fixed-effects models eliminate the statistical significance, but the magnitudes of the estimates remain large. Maternal employment effects are the same for all adolescents with respect to weight-related outcomes, eating and exercise behaviors, alcohol-related behaviors, and drug-related behaviors.

The third essay examines the heterogeneous effects of maternal employment on academic outcomes. Using the Add Health data, I examine how the effects of parental employment differ between more conscientious and less conscientious adolescents. In general, results from OLS and individual fixed-effects models show that conscientious and less conscientious adolescents do not have different changes in GPA when their parents increase their work hours. The differences of parental employment effects on academic outcomes are mostly small and statistically insignificant.

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