This dissertation explores a variety of issues in the microeconomics of development, specifically in terms of labor and human development in the Middle East and North Africa. The three essays in this dissertation address a diverse array of development challenges through microeconomic and microeconometric analysis. The first essay investigates the returns to vocational secondary schooling as compared to other routes to vocational skills, such as apprenticeships, in Egypt. A longitudinal dataset allows for causal inference about returns by comparing siblings. The essay shows that, for recent cohorts, the estimated returns to vocational secondary education are the same as attaining no formal education, while the returns to skills obtained outside of formal education are substantial. The second essay first demonstrates that fertility has recently risen in Egypt and then investigates whether declining employment opportunities for women, and therefore lower opportunity costs for childrearing, may have contributed to the increase in fertility. Discrete-time hazard models are used to estimate the relationship between employment and childbearing, variously incorporating instrumental variables and fixed effects to address the endogeneity of employment. Results suggest that declining public sector employment, which is particularly appealing to women, contributed to the rise in fertility. The third essay identifies large socio-economic disparities in child health and nutrition in Jordan and investigates the factors contributing to inequality in children's height and weight, including parental health knowledge, food quantity and quality, health conditions, the health environment, and prenatal development. This essay demonstrates that the health environment and feeding contribute to inequality in child health but that these effects mediate only a small part of socio-economic disparities. Much of the inequality in children's health is determined prenatally, for instance through disparities in fetal growth. Overall, the findings of these three essays indicate important directions for future policies and programs to promote human and economic development.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2015. Major: Applied Economics. Advisor: Paul Glewwe. 1 computer file (PDF); x, 230 pages.
Essays on the Microeconomics of Development in the Middle East and North Africa.
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