Author ORCID Identifier


Date of Award

Summer 8-8-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Daniel Kreisman

Second Advisor

Lasse Brune

Third Advisor

Lauren Hoehn-Velasco

Fourth Advisor

Thomas A. Mroz


This dissertation explores the indirect effects of a large-scale program introduced in Colombia in 2014 that dramatically expanded college financial aid for low-income students. It is composed of two chapters. The first chapter, co-authored with Michael D. Bloem, studies the effect of the increase in post-secondary educational opportunities on teen fertility. Our preferred empirical approach for this chapter uses a triple difference design that leverages variation in the share of female students eligible for the program across municipalities in the country and the fact that the introduction of financial aid should not affect the education and fertility decisions of older women not targeted by the program. We find that fertility rates for women aged 15-19 decreased in more affected municipalities by about 6 percent relative to less affected municipalities. Our results suggest that increasing economic opportunities through expanding college access can contribute to lowering teen fertility rates. The second chapter studies how the dramatic expansion of financial aid for college affected the gender achievement gap in the end-of-high school standardized exam used in post-secondary admission decisions. Using the group of non-low-income students as a comparison group and a non-linear difference-in-differences approach, I provide evidence that the policy caused a reduction in the gender gap at the top by between 9 and 13 percent, starting at the 75th percentile of the distribution of test scores. I present evidence that these results are due to a stronger response among female students (relative to men) and provide a theoretical framework to explain the differential response. The findings have implications for understanding the gender achievement gap in settings with pronounced income-driven barriers to access to higher education.