Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Tania Barham

Second Advisor

Terra McKinnish

Third Advisor

Keith Maskus

Fourth Advisor

Francisca Antman

Fifth Advisor

Jane Menken


This dissertation focuses on two areas: 1) the effect of labor market opportunities for women on household decision-making structures, domestic violence and children's education and 2) the impact of early childhood health shocks on later life health and human capital accumulation. The first chapter looks at the Bangladesh Garment Industry. Using a difference in difference specification with temporal and spatial variation, I show increased job opportunities for women in Bangladesh leads to an increase in a women's household decision-making power, but also an increase in the likelihood she experiences domestic violence. An increase in job opportunities for women also increases the probability children age 6 - 12 are enrolled in school.

In the second chapter, I study the long-term effects of the 1974 - 1975 Bangladesh Famine. I find significant detrimental long-term health and educational effects for children exposed to this severe nutritional crisis. Results indicate those in utero during the famine are stunted later in life, but also likely to have higher weight-to-height measurements suggesting the role the in utero environment has on later life metabolism. Children age 6 - 10 during the famine have a 0.17 standard deviation decrease in completed educational attainment.

In the third chapter, I investigate the long-term effects of childhood exposure to lead on educational attainment and labor market success. I find that exposure to this environmental toxin leads to decreased educational attainment for both men and women and decreased annual wages for men. To carry out the analysis I use the 1900 and 1940 U.S. Census and historical information on water infrastructure in Massachusetts. Males exposed to lead infrastructure between the ages of 5 and 20 have 1.3 fewer years of education and a fifteen percent decrease in annual wages.