I am an Assistant Research Scientist at the Population Studies Center at University of Michigan.
My broad research interests are in health economics, labour economics, and demography, with a focus on public policy. My work explores two related topics: causes and consequences of fertility behaviours, and human capital development. I am particularly interested in childhood development and how the environment – both physical and social – influences fertility and health capital accumulation. I am also part of a long-term initiative to study effects of improving contraceptive access.
Fasting during pregnancy has adverse effects on fetal and adult health of the offspring. In the case of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, these effects can be avoided through mothers timing pregnancy to avoid Ramadan during the gestation period. This paper examines whether mothers time pregnancy to avoid Ramadan, and the mechanisms behind the avoidance behaviour. Using fertility data from the Indonesian Family Life Survey, I find strong evidence of Ramadan avoidance in the timing of contraceptive use. The probability of using 3-month injectable contraceptives increases by 0.6 percentage points two months before Ramadan to ensure return to fertility during the optimal time to conceive. I also find a 0.2 percentage point increase of in the likelihood of conception after Ramadan. Moreover, my results suggest that expansion of Indonesia’s Village Midwife Program allowed mothers to use contraceptives, specifically birth control injections, to avoid Ramadan.
Dengue is one of the most wide-spread mosquito-borne viral diseases in the world. 390 million people are infected annually and 2.5 billion people live in areas where outbreaks occur every 3-5 years. At the same time, the existing evidence on the consequences of exposure to dengue during pregnancy is inconclusive. I combine data from the Passive Dengue Surveillance System and birth records for Puerto Rico for the years 1990-2010. I examine the relationship between dengue and pregnancy outcomes, using rainfall as an instrument for dengue. My results suggest dengue exposure during pregnancy is associated with a decrease in the number of live births. In a typical year without a dengue outbreak, there are 215 to 3006 fewer births due to dengue infections. I do not find evidence of adverse effects of dengue on pregnancy outcomes examined in the medical literature, such as birthweight, Caesarean delivery, or neurological defects.
This paper evaluates the consequences of workplace drug testing policies on marriage and fertility of black women. I exploit variation in the timing of state regulation on drug testing to evaluate the effects on the male-female earnings differential, marriage, childbearing, and children's outcomes. The results suggest that pro-testing regulation leads to a 7.7% increase in earnings for black women and 3.3% increase in earnings for black men, decreasing the male-female wage gap. Despite economically and statistically significant changes in economic conditions, the results suggest no change in marital status. In addition, black women with at least one child have 0.1 fewer children after the policy. I also show that the policy is associated with an improvement in living circumstances of households with a black female household head, suggesting that the existing narrative of the War on Drugs -- and drug testing -- leading exclusively to a deterioration of black families does not capture the full extent of the consequences.