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EDUCATION, WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME AND FREEDOM OF CHOICE: EVIDENCE FROM VIETNAM AND NIGERIA Open Access

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This dissertation contributes to social interactions returns to schooling and the determinants of women empowerment with the use of careful econometric methodologies. Two chapters investigate the effect of education on freedom of choice and women's empowerment. One chapter looks at the causal effect of working outside the home on women's empowerment.The first chapter, a joint work with S. Emran and S.C. Smith, investigates the causal effect of education on freedom of spouse choice in Vietnam. Using an instrumental variable approach that exploits variation from the supply side of education due to war disruptions and geographic location, we provide robust evidence that an additional year of schooling reduces the probability of an arranged marriage by about 13 percentage points. Additionally, we use the approach developed by Conley et al (2008) where the exclusion restrictions on the instruments are relaxed to not be exactly exogenous so that the statistical relationship between the instruments and the outcome of interest is only close to zero. We also run the CUE-GMM, GMM estimation and the recently developed tests for weak IV robust inference in binary choice models with heteroskedasticity developed by Magnusson (2008) and Finlay and Magnusson (2009). The results across this series of checks remain the same and strong. The second chapter studies the effect of education on women's empowerment in Nigeria. We employ the variation in the intensity of funding of universal primary education program introduced in Nigeria in 1976 as a source of variation when identifying the individual's years of schooling. The analysis suggests that increasing female education by one year significantly increases women's empowerment by about 10 percentage points, statistically significant at one percent. We also exploit the difference- in-differences methodology that looks at the differences in program exposure by region and year of birth. The Universal primary education had impact on educational attainment in Nigeria. Subsequently, we found positive effects of education on women's empowerment but not statistically significant.The third chapter provides evidence of a positive causal effect of female labor force participation outside the home on women's empowerment in Nigeria through three different estimation strategies. The instrumental variable approach that tackled the endogeneity bias used indicators of variations of labor demand with number of banks per capita by state and its interaction with ethnicity and religion dummies to identify women's female labor supply. The results showed that working outside of the home for women in Nigeria increase their probability of autonomy in making decisions inside the household by about 60 percentage points on average but the magnitude depends on what decision is to be made. For example, working outside the home increases the probability of women's autonomy in making decision alone or with husband on daily purchases by 86 percentage points while it is only 48 and 42 percentage point respectively regarding decision on large purchases and husband's money. We use the same series of methodologies for robustness checks as in the first chapter. Additionally, we run bivariate probit estimation. They all confirm the main results.

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