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Determinants and Consequences of Human Capital Investments by Traditionally Disadvantaged Cohorts

posted on 01.08.2021, 00:00 by Salman A Khan
In my dissertation work, I study the human capital investments of disadvantaged cohorts. In the first chapter, I study the short-term impacts on educational attainment of a large-scale school-expansion program in rural Punjab, Pakistan. Using administrative data on historical school construction that started in the 1960s, I exploit variation across birth cohorts and regions in the timing of school construction to build on a Difference-in-Differences approach that allows for staggered school construction in this context. I find that an additional girls’ school per 1000 children at the district level led to a 4-5 percentage point (20-25%) higher likelihood of girls completing primary education and increased their years of education by around 0.5 years. I do not find any statistically significant impact of the boys' school construction on their education. In the second chapter, I study the long-term and intergenerational effects of expanding educational opportunities through the large scale school construction program. Whereas I find evidence of intergenerational impacts on educational attainment of children of mothers that are more exposed to the school construction program, I do not find corresponding improvements in the female labor market or marriage market outcomes as a result of increased educational attainment. These findings contribute to a growing literature that finds that females in developing countries continue to face barriers in terms of later life outcomes despite improvements to their educational attainment. In the third chapter, I analyze the impact of the labor demand shocks induced by the Great Recession on the human capital investments of young Hispanics, a disadvantaged sub-group in the United States on the basis of their education. I use a Bartik approach where I construct labor demand shocks separately by racial group and ethnicity at the metropolitan area level to analyze their impact on schooling decisions of young cohorts. I find that the higher responsiveness of young Hispanics, even conditional on the differential size of the shock experienced by Hispanics relative to other groups, can explain more than half of the observed convergence in High School dropout rates and college attendance rates between Hispanics and other groups following the Great Recession. My results highlight the impact shocks to opportunity cost can have on the schooling decisions of a historically disadvantaged group.



Feigenberg, Benjamin


Feigenberg, Benjamin



Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Lubotsky, Darren Qureshi, Javaeria Ost, Ben Mazumder, Bhashkar

Submitted date

August 2021

Thesis type




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