Three essays on women in developing countries
CHAPTER 1: IMPACT OF PUBLIC PRESCHOOL EXPANSION ON FEMALE LABOR FORCE PARTICIPATION IN RURAL BANGLADESH
To test whether the expansion of public education can reduce women’s domestic care burden and increase female labor force participation (FLFP) in rural areas, this study examines the large-scale nationalization of preschools in Bangladesh between 2013 and 2014. Focusing on differences in the number of nationalized preschools across districts, it finds that for every newly nationalized preschool per 1,000 children, the probability of women participating in income generating activities increases by 32 percentage points on average. This study also provides evidence for changes in the gendered division of labor within households: women’s share of total household time spent on domestic work decreases by 20 percentage points and their share of farming increases by 27 percentage points, while men’s share of domestic work increases by 29 percentage points on average.
CHAPTER 2: MOBILE FINANCIAL SERVICE AND FEMALE EMPOWERMENT - EVIDENCE FROM THE PRIMARY EDUCATION STIPEND PROGRAM IN BANGLADESH
This study explores the potential exclusionary effects of providing mobile financial services for women in rural areas who have limited access to cellphones. By examining a sudden change in the payment scheme of the government’s Primary Education Stipend Program in Bangladesh in 2017, this study finds that the adoption of a mobile stipend payment scheme increased child education expenses and the perceived decision-making power of program participating mothers differentially according to personal cellphone ownership: Specifically, 113 percent higher expenses for personal teaching and 92 percent higher expenses for buying textbook and stationery for mothers who had a personal cellphone. To support these findings, this study reports several falsification test results using non-participating mothers and pre-intervention period samples.
CHAPTER 3: WOMEN’S CONTROL OVER MICROCREDIT AND INTRAHOUSEHOLD RESOURCE ALLOCATION: EVIDENCE FROM BANGLADESH
To explain the disconnect between women’s access to loans and the desired social impacts of microcredit programs, this study investigates the intrahousehold bargaining process over loan use. Using a panel from Bangladesh, it finds supportive evidence for the gendered nature of economic activities, in which women’s control over loans is limited. In addition, a positive linkage is identified between women’s control over loan use and their input into household’s economic activities, regardless of the gendered division of labor. Finally, “who controls the loan” is proposed as a critical factor that links microcredit and social impacts: all other things being equal, women’s decision-making power over loan use is related to a 254 percent higher level of women’s education expenses on average.
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