Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Sylwester, Kevin


In this dissertation research, the empirical analyses are developed to investigate the role of different factors on female's fertility decisions as well as female labor force participation. This research contains two major parts related to women: first, the impact of State Children Health Insurance (SCHIP) on female's fertility decision is examined. In 1997, Congress enacted the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to provide matching funds to states to provide health insurance for children who do not qualify for Medicaid. The implementation of SCHIP, however, differs across states. For example, some states provide SCHIP benefits to parents while others do not. Controlling for state and female characteristics, are women in states with more generous SCHIP benefits more likely to have children than are women in states with less generous benefits? After classifying state benefits as "generous" or "not generous" under different criteria, I do not find support that the type of SCHIP matters for future pregnancy decisions. Moreover, the association between pregnancy decisions and SCHIP do not change across ethnic groups, income levels, marital status, etc. Second, using a cross-sectional empirical specification, I examine whether female labor force participation (FLFP) in a cross-section of countries between 1985 and 2005 varies depending upon the religion practiced in these countries. I initially find that FLFP is lower in Muslim countries. However, the association between Islam and FLFP greatly diminishes once other controls are included in the regression, suggesting that Islam might not diminish FLFP as some have argued. Moreover, once these additional controls are included, the association between Islam and FLFP is similar to that between Catholicism and FLFP. Countries where Protestantism is prevalent or where no religion is practiced have higher FLFP. Besides, focusing on FLFP and using a panel data from 1980 to 2005, this study examines whether democratization is associated with subsequent labor force participation rates for women. I consider a panel to exploit the within country variation in political regimes and to employ country fixed effects that can control for cultural factors that influence both women's rights and political outcomes. We find a negative association between democratization (as measured by the Freedom House indices) and FLFP. Democratization appears to lower FLFP. Part of this finding stems from the decline in FLFP in former Communist countries. But the fall of Communism is not a complete explanation. Perhaps authoritarian regimes more generally pushed more people into the labor force to maintain higher output levels even when this was not optimal for individual households.




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