Job Market Paper

Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital: Effects of Maternal Education on Child Education (download here)

Research shows that parental education is a good predictor of children’s educational outcomes. However, little is known about the underlying mechanisms through which the effects are transmitted. In this paper, I estimate the intergenerational effects of maternal education on child education. To identify effects, I exploit the timing and geographical intensity of Nigeria’s 1976 educational reform, one of Africa’s largest school construction projects. One extra year of maternal education increases grade-for-age by 13 percent, the probability of children completing primary school by 22 percent, and attending secondary school by 29 percent. I find that the effects are particularly pronounced for girls. The findings are robust across different specifications and validity tests. These results are not due to improved access to education for children whose mothers benefited from the program, as children of slightly older mothers in the same region are less educated. I also find that the improved outcomes are not driven by better labor market opportunities for the mother or changes in fertility outcomes. Instead, improved living conditions, increased involvement in decisions relating to the child's education and health, as well as having a more educated father are important channels through which maternal education matters for children’s schooling.

Media coverage: IPA Weekly Links


The Economic Effects of Facebook (with Roberto Mosquera, Trent McNamara, Xiongfei Guo, Ragan Petrie)

Experimental Economics 2019

Social media permeates many aspects of our lives, including how we connect with others, where we get our news and how we spend our time. Yet, we know little about the economic effects for users. In 2017, we ran a large field experiment with over 1,765 individuals to document the value of Facebook to users and its causal effect on news consumption and awareness, well-being and daily activities. Participants reveal how much they value one week of Facebook usage and are then randomly assigned to a validated Facebook restriction or normal use. One week of Facebook is worth $67. Those who are off Facebook for a week reduce news consumption, are less likely to recognize politically-skewed news stories, report being less depressed and engage in healthier activities. Our results further suggest that after a restriction, Facebook's value increases, consistent with information loss or that using Facebook may be addictive.

Media coverage: NiemanLab

Working Papers

Exposure to Negative Shocks and Child Development: Evidence from Boko Haram Attacks (draft coming soon)

Growing evidence shows that exposure to violent attacks during early childhood impairs the physical development of children. In this paper, I show that these effects extend to psychological development. By exploiting exogenous variation in the location and timing of Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria and new measures of physical and psychological development, I estimate the effects of exposure to violence on child development. Children exposed to terror attacks are 0.35 SDs shorter and lag in cognition by 0.18 SDs. The deficits are largest in children exposed to violence at younger ages. Mediation analysis shows that 6% of the effect on height is mediated by nutrition and parental investment can explain 14% of the effect on psychological development. This research therefore highlights areas in which interventions in early childhood can lessen the adverse impacts of negative shocks.


Gender, Information and Education Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from Nigeria, with Marco Castillo ( AEA RCT Registry information here)

Reassessing the Effects of Education on Fertility Outcomes: Causal Evidence from Nigeria

Intergenerational Impacts of Conflict on Education, with Raisa Sara

Women's circles: Testing the Impact of Female Support Groups on Goal Achievements, with Alessandra Cassar, Danila Serra