Essays on Female Education, Fertility, and Health: Evidence From Turkey and the US

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy
Title Essays on Female Education, Fertility, and Health: Evidence From Turkey and the US
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Education is an important factor in reducing poverty, improving child health, and empowering
women, which are key indicators of economic development and are supported by the
United Nations Millennium Development Goals. While the role of female education in
improving development indicators is well established, evidence on the causal impact in the
context of developing countries is still not conclusive. Moreover, an understanding of the
mechanisms through which education operates is crucial to designing public policies that
promote these key development indicators.
In order to identify the causal effects, chapters two and three use a change in the compulsory
schooling law (CSL) in Turkey in 1997, which extended compulsory schooling
from five to eight years (free of charge in public schools) as a natural experiment. I therefore
explore the impact of female education on child and infant health and teenage fertility
in a country lacking female empowerment and facing very high teenage fertility and child
mortality rates prior to the CSL. According to the World Economic Forum Global Gender
Gap Report, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have the lowest regional ranking
in comprehensive gender equality, highlighting the importance of understanding the role
of education in reducing gaps in health and economic opportunities. In particular, Turkey
is ranked far worse than countries previously studied and has a unique set of social and
cultural institutions that have historically disadvantaged women.

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