Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wilcox, Virginia

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of Economics


This dissertation constitutes three separate essays on labor and health economics using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) dataset. The first essay examines the long-run effect of childhood poverty on labor market outcomes using propensity score matching (PSM) and average causal mediation effect (ACME) methods. The results show that persistent childhood poverty significantly decreases average annual labor income and hours worked, whereas it increases the number of weeks unemployed per annum during adulthood. The study also shows that a significant portion of the total effect of childhood poverty on labor market outcomes passes indirectly through its negative effect on education and childhood health. The results from the PSM and ACME analyses for stages of child development reveal that early childhood is the most critical period. The second essay explores the effect of the minimum wage introduced by the 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act on child health using a difference-in-differences research design. The result shows that the proportion of children who have a healthy childhood after the minimum wage policy intervention is significantly larger than the same figure before the policy intervention. The child health improvement impact of the minimum wage policy is stronger for states with no minimum wage before the Act. Furthermore, despite the health improvement effect of the policy being positive for both female and male subsamples, the magnitude is bigger for the female sub-sample. The results are robust to alternative definitions of childhood health and different sampling criteria. The third essay investigates whether a difference in maternal work intensity causes health inequality in children. The results from instrumental variable (IV) probit regression estimation that accounts for cohort fixed effects show that maternal hours worked has a positive and significant effect on the likelihood of having a healthy childhood. These estimations treat the entire childhood as a single period. However, maternal work intensity’s positive child health impact is not homogeneous across all the stages of child development. The fixed effect estimation that accounts for the heterogeneity across stages of child development (infancy, early childhood, mid-childhood, and late childhood) shows that maternal hours worked have a negative and significant effect on childhood health for the first two stages of child development. However, the effect is positive and significant for the late childhood period, and the magnitude is big enough to offset the earlier negative effect. The results are robust to the alternative definition of the self-reported general health status dummy variable and different specifications of the estimation models.


186 pages




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