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Three essays on parental health and children's outcomes

TitleThree essays on parental health and children's outcomes
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsChen, K.
UniversityDalhousie University
CityHalifax, NS

Does a parent's illness or disability hurt the educational attainment of their children? This dissertation consists of three essays on the impact of negative health events and / or activity limitation experienced by parents on their children's human capital, and how the negative consequences of parental illness can be mediated by public policy. The first essay uses the 1991-2006 Chinese Health and Nutrition Survey (CHNS) and finds poor Chinese children whose parent has a serious illness are much more likely to drop out of primary or secondary school compared to other children whose parents remain healthy. The second essay, using Canada's 1994-2008 National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY), discovers a similar "attendance gap" at the post-secondary level between Canadian youth of disabled parents and their peers of non-disabled parents. Thus in both a developing and developed country context, the loss in family financial resources associated with parental illness or activity limitation, as measured by out-of-pocket medical expenditures and long-run equivalent family income, respectively, partially explains children's attendance gap. finally, the third essay provides a direct estimate of the intergenerational effects of cash transfers. Results exploit variation across provinces and time in disability benefits to demonstrate that higher cash transfers made available to parents with a disability can effectively boost children's math test performance, and facilitate non-cognitive skill development.

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