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Essays on children, women and economic development


  • Leone, Maria Anna


This thesis investigates three important themes within the development economics literature that link children, women and economic development. In the first essay we present an analysis of child labour among agricultural households in rural Nepal. We first examine the monetary contribution of child labour to family farms. For this purpose, within a non-separable agricultural household model we estimate a farm production function to obtain shadow wages for both children and adults employed on the farm. Our results reveal that the relative contribution of child labour to family income is not negligible. We then analyse child labour supply to explore whether it is driven by poverty or other reasons such as imperfections in the labour market. We estimate both a reduced form model and a structural equation model. This latter includes the estimated shadow wages and income from the previous analysis. Both models allow for an examination of how child labour supply reacts to a change in the opportunity cost of time and wealth. The reduced form results suggest that an increase in household’s wealth (measured by land endowments) reduces child labour, specifically of girls. This result is consistent with the hypothesis of poverty-induced child labour in the presence of perfect labour markets. This decline, however, occurs for sufficiently high levels of wealth. Imperfections in the labour market may play a role in explaining child labour of boys and in households that are not at the top-end of the land distribution. Estimates of the structural labour supply model, however, yield results on wage and income elasticities that partly contradicts the theoretical predictions. In the second essay we analyse whether and how an increase in the participation of women in a key decision making body of local collective action institutions - the Executive Committee (EC) of Community Forest User Groups (CFUG) in Nepal - affects forest protection, specifically household firewood collection. In many developing countries women are responsible for the collection and management of forest products essential to the daily lives of their household. Therefore they have stronger interests than men in ensuring the availability of these products. Despite this, women are often excluded from the decision-making process that sets out the rules to access and collect forest products within community forests. We account for the potential endogeneity of female participation and exploit an amendment made to the guidelines for CFUG formation that sets a higher iv threshold for women representation in the Executive Committee to evaluate the impact of women on firewood extraction. The results indicate that higher female participation in the ECs of CFUGs leads to a decrease in firewood extraction. This evidence is suggestive that women are prioritising conservation to ensure sustainable firewood extraction for their daily needs. In the third essay we analyse the short and long-term impact of violence on education in Timor Leste. Specifically, we examine the effect of the 1999 violence on school attendance in 2001 and its longer-term impact on primary school completion of the same cohorts of children observed again in 2007. We compare the educational impact of the 1999 violence with the impact of other periods of high-intensity violence during the 25 years of Indonesian occupation. The short-term effects of the conflict are mixed. In the longer term, we find evidence of a substantial loss of human capital among boys in Timor Leste exposed to peaks of violence during the 25-year long conflict. The evidence suggests that this result may be due to household trade-offs between education and economic welfare.

Suggested Citation

  • Leone, Maria Anna, 2013. "Essays on children, women and economic development," Economics PhD Theses 0713, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:sus:susphd:0713

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