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Essays on Health and Family Economics

Mak, Ho Ching (2018) Essays on Health and Family Economics. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation consists of three essays on health economics and family economics.

Chapter 1 studies the impact of school on childhood obesity in Australia. Consistent with the global obesity epidemic, Australia's rate of childhood obesity has shown an alarming upward trend. While a trend of this magnitude can only be explained by the environment, the exact mechanism remains unclear. I compare early school entrants to late entrants, and finds large differences. This chapter reveals that the school environment is responsible for the phenomenon, and that the environment contributes mostly by exposing children to sugar sweetened beverages, rather than by causing a lack of physical exercise.

Chapter 2 investigates the impact of gender-neutral and marriage-neutral custody laws on domestic violence and homicide in the United States. Using the difference in timing of custody law changes across different states, I find that a custody regime which is neutral in both gender and marriage leads to significant decline in domestic violence for women, and homicide for both men and women.

Chapter 3 studies teen childbearing and establishes its quantitative relationship with maturation of adolescents. Teen childbearing is a particular social concern because unlike most other risky behaviors like smoking and binge drinking, it is a lifelong responsibility that cannot be reversed. Nevertheless, this irreversibility also makes it difficult to identify whether the involved individuals regret their childbearing decision or not. The answer to this question matters to adolescent policies since only if teen childbearing leads to maturation and regret, the society is in a position to intervene the autonomy of adolescents. This chapter applies the methodology devised in Mak (2015) to measure maturation using the simultaneous changes in many reversible risky behaviors. We find that teen childbearing is associated with 18% more probability of being mature conditional on being immature in the previous period for females; the corresponding figure for males are much smaller in magnitude. Together with some other supporting evidence, this result indicates that teen childbearing is a very negative shock to the involved females, yet the involved males tend to leave the burden to their partners.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mak, Ho Chinghochingmak@gmail.comhom11
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBeresteanu, Ariearie@pitt.eduarie
Committee MemberZincenko, Federicozincenko@pitt.eduzincenko
Committee MemberRipoll, Marlaripoll@pitt.eduripoll
Committee MemberBodnar, Lisabodnar@edc.pitt.edubodnar
Date: 28 June 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 9 February 2018
Approval Date: 28 June 2018
Submission Date: 16 February 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 110
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: health economics, family economics, childhood obesity
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2018 16:08
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2018 16:08


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