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Essays in economic geography: school vouchers, student riots and maternal surrogacy

Montebruno, Piero (2016) Essays in economic geography: school vouchers, student riots and maternal surrogacy. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In this thesis, I investigate spatial aspects of education and family economics. In the first chapter, I explore the effect of voucher school competition on pupil achievement in Chile. Specifically, I create spatial indices to measure spatially determined competition: a choice index which counts the number of schools that are accessible from a given municipality; and a competition index which summarizes the choice index for a given community of students. The chapter tests the hypothesis that schools which spatially compete more are also more efficient. The results show no effect of spatially determined competition on value added. I discuss how the absence or slow response of parents to “poorly performing” schools and a “too low” voucher can be proposed as two of the causes of the poor functioning of the voucher system. In the second chapter, I exploit a police report on occupied schools in the socalled Chilean Winter—a huge social outburst of pupil protests, walk-outs, riots and school occupations, which started in early June of 2011—and test the hypothesis that a decrease in attendance has a causal effect on reducing students’ performance in standardized tests. My evidence indicates that the performance of pupils affected by missed days from school dropped to nearly 0.18σ, which is sizeable in terms of human capital accumulation. In the last chapter, I produce the first quantitative evaluation of maternal surrogacy. I exploit variation in surrogacy legislation in every US state over time and study surrogacy’s causal effect on vital statistics such as marriage, divorce, births and out-of-wedlock births. Using arguably exogenous changes in legislation to identify the causal impact of surrogacy, I show that one additional standard deviation in the surrogacy rate causes an increase of 0.05σ in the number of marriages and of 0.04σ in the number of divorces. It also causes a decrease of -0.02σ in births and of -0.03σ in out-of-wedlock births. The three chapters introduce novel results that advance current knowledge and should be carefully considered by policy makers in these areas. JEL Codes: H70;I20;J12;J13;J16;J52;K12;K36;K42.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Piero Francesco Montebruno
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Silva, Olmo and Gibbons, Stephen

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