University of Illinois at Chicago

Beyond the Good Intentions: Assessing Unintended Consequences of Labor and Health Policies

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posted on 2020-08-01, 00:00 authored by Luis Faundez Chacon
In the first chapter, I study the causal effect of longer maternity leave on postpartum depression and other measures of mental health. Using a difference-in-difference instrumental variable approach, I find that one extra week of paid maternity leave increases the probability of being diagnosed with postpartum depression by 0.3 percentage points. However, I find no evidence of an increase in self-reported maternal stress level during the first 18 months after delivery or an increase in longer term depressive symptoms. A likely mechanism driving the increased diagnosis is that longer paid maternity leave increases the likelihood of diagnosis given a fixed level of depressive symptoms. I show that longer leave increases labor market attachment of mothers and thereby affects insurance coverage and doctor visits. By remaining employed, women are not only less likely to be uninsured, but they also get access to better health insurance. The availability of better health insurance combined with more time to go to the doctor, increase doctor visits during the first year after delivery, especially mental health visits. In the second chapter, I study the impact of the Chilean paid maternity leave extension on labor market discrimination against women. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I find robust evidence that the aforementioned policy had an unintended effect: it reduced labor force participation of women of childbearing age by 3 percentage points and their employment by 2.4 percentage points, while it had no effect on the gender pay gap. In the third chapter, I study how the availability of a drug that reduces the risk of sexually acquired HIV, Truvada for Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), is affecting men who have sex with men (MSM) sexual behavior, and if this change in behavior has a causal effect on the increase in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) seen in the United States in the last years. Using data from NSFG and NHANES, and a propensity score matching differences-in-differences approach, I find evidence of risk compensation after the introduction of PrEP. I document an increase in the probability of having more than 2 sexual partners in the last year as well as having a new sex partner in the last 12 months. I do not find evidence of an increase in sexual activity, however. I also find a large increase in condomless sexual activity. I document individuals switching from always using condoms and using condoms less than 50% of the times to never using condoms. Additionally, I provide suggestive evidence of an increase in STDs (chlamydia and HPV).



Ost, Ben


Ost, Ben



Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Lubotsky, Darren Qureshi, Javaeria Feigenberg, Ben Kaestner, Robert

Submitted date

August 2020

Thesis type



  • en

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