Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Shiferaw Gurmu

Second Advisor

Barry T. Hirsch

Third Advisor

Rachana Bhatt

Fourth Advisor

Madeline Zavodny


This dissertation consists of three distinct yet interrelated essays in family and labor Economics. In particular, I examine the impact of household demographic and socioeconomic characteristics on household decisions related to the investment in child human capital such as fertility, child health and child labor. The first chapter examines the impact of women’s education on household fertility decision. I use the change in the length of primary schooling in Egypt in 1988 to extract an exogenous variation in female education using a nonparametric regression discontinuity design. My analysis shows that female education significantly reduces the number of children born per woman. The reduction in fertility seems to result from delaying maternal age rather than changing women’s fertility preferences. I also provide evidence that female education in Egypt does not boost women’s labor force participation or increase their usages of contraceptive methods. Female education, however, does increase women’s age at marriage which might explain the delay of maternal age.

The second chapter uses the same identification strategy to examine the impact of parental education on child health outcomes. The results suggest that parental education does not have significant effects on child mortality or nutritional status. I provide evidence that among low-educated parents in Egypt, education has no significant impacts on parents’ intermediate outcomes that are essential to improve child health such as literacy skills, access to information, and health behavior.

The third chapter examines the effect of income on parents’ decision to send their children to work. The empirical literature on child labor has found conflicting results regarding whether poverty does or does not lead parents to send their children to work. A majority of these studies treat child laborers as a single homogeneous group. Recent data from the International Labor Organization, however, reveals substantial differences among child workers in employer types, work patterns, and work intensity. This suggests that parental reasons for sending their children to work could vary with the type of work, which might explain discrepancies in previous studies. I use data from the 2010 Egypt National Child Labor Survey to estimate the effects of parental income on child labor for various subpopulations of working children. In addition to measures of household characteristics, this dataset provides rich information about the working conditions of child laborers. My analysis shows that the effect of parental income on child labor is minimal among children who work in family businesses and in jobs not highly physical, jobs nonhazardous, and jobs during school breaks. In contrast, higher parental income does decrease the likelihood of child labor in market work, jobs that are physical, hazardous jobs, and full-year jobs. In short, higher family incomes deter types of child labor most harmful to children, while having little effect on types of work least likely to be harmful.