Three Essays on Development Economics
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The first essay estimates the effect of the "Program of College Admission for Poor Counties" on high school education using data of 86 counties of Gansu province in northwestern China. Applying a difference-in-differences approach, we show that the program significantly increases senior high school entrants by 99-224, and enrollments by 317-586 in per 100,000 population in the poor counties in Gansu after the policy started in 2012. Using the alternative measurement of outcomes, we show that it significantly increases entry rate by 1.3-7.6%, and enrollment rate by 1.2-7.3%. The results are robust to alternative model specifications and outcome measurements. Our findings indicate that this admission policy, which is motivated by addressing unequal access to college, effectively improves schooling at the high school level. The second essay estimates the effects of housing demolition on household labor supply and saving behavior in China, using panel data from the China Household Finance Survey (CHFS) from 2013 to 2017. Applying a difference-in-differences approach, we show that households significantly increase their saving rate after housing demolition. However, there is no significant effect on the labor supply of the household head. In addition, we examine the mechanism that drives the variation of the adjustment of household economic behavior. The demolished households with household head working in non-state sector increase the saving rate and labor supply relative to those working in the state sector. Also, the households receiving monetary compensation increase saving rate, relative to those with other compensation packages, such as floor area. Our findings indicate that the housing demolition, as a significant disruption during the life course of a relocated household, effectively changes the household saving behavior. The third essay examines the impact of students’ perception of school safety on standardized learning outcomes using data from Rwanda. The results show that students who feel unsafe at school exhibit academic performance significantly worse than those who feel safe, in both mathematics and reading exams, conditional on learning practices, as well as student, teacher, school, and family level characteristics. The findings reveal significant policy implication that addressing the school safety issue is critical for realizing the full potential of students at primary schools in Rwanda.
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Zhou, Song (2018). Three Essays on Development Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from