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Human Capital in Lower and Middle Income Countries

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM

Atlanta Marriott Marquis, International 3
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Manisha Shah, University of California-Los Angeles & NBER

The Right to Education Act: Trends in Enrollment, Test Scores, and School Quality

Manisha Shah
University of California-Los Angeles & NBER
Bryce Steinberg
Brown University & NBER


We estimate Mincerian returns to education across India using nationally representative household data from 2004-2012. We find that returns are significantly lower in rural areas, and that this difference can be completely explained by the low returns in agricultural work. The results are not driven by selection or migration. We also show that the OLS returns are quite similar using either wages or consumption expenditure. This has interesting implications for estimating returns to education in low-income settings where wages are generally not available for many workers.

Making a Gangster: The Role of United States Criminal Deportations on Gang Expansion and Human Capital in Central America

Maria Micaela Sviatschi
Princeton University


This paper provides new evidence on how criminal skills exported from the US affects human capital in El Salvador. In 1996, the US Illegal Immigration Responsibility Act drastically increased the number of criminal deportations. In particular, the leaders of large Salvadoran gangs that developed extortion and drug trafficking skills in Los Angeles were sent back to El Salvador. In addition to having a direct effect on violent crime, the arrival of individuals bringing criminal skills and connections may have generated important spillover effects on Salvadorean children that were never exposed to US neighborhoods. Using variation over time and across cohorts combined with geographical variation in the location of gang groups and leader's place of birth, I find evidence that children in their early teens when the leaders arrived are more likely to be involved in gang related crimes and have less years of education when they are adults. I also find evidence that these deportations, by increasing gang violence in El Salvador, increase child migration to the US, potentially leading to more deportations.

The Long-Term and Intergenerational Effects of School Construction in Indonesia

Bhashkar Mazumder
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Maria Rosales-Rueda
Rutgers University
Margaret Triyana
University of Notre Dame


A growing body of research has shown evidence that social interventions that improve childhood environments have positive effects in long-run adult wellbeing. However, most of the evidence of large-scale interventions comes from high-income countries, and little is known about whether the beneficial impacts persist into the next generation. Using the national implementation of the INPRES school expansion program in Indonesia, we examine: i) the long-term effects on adult health and wellbeing forty years later; and ii) the intergenerational effects on the human capital of the following generation.
We exploit variation in program rollout across Indonesian districts between 1973 and 1979 and link it to longitudinal data from the Indonesia Family Life Survey, which includes 5 waves over 20 years (1993-2014). This rich dataset allows us to evaluate the long-term outcomes for adults who have access to INPRES in childhood, and examine whether they have children with better cognitive development, health and educational outcomes. There are several pathways through which better parental human capital due to their own exposure to INPRES may transmit into improvements in health and education outcomes of the next generation: changes in family resources, better health and human capital investments, and changes in fertility decisions among others. Therefore, we will examine evidence of potential channels based on the available data.
Our preliminary findings show that individuals exposed to the school construction program have better self-reported health status at the age of 40 to 50. We will also analyze additional health and adult cognitive outcomes. Next, we will examine the intergenerational effects on children’s health at birth, cognitive development, childhood health and schooling outcomes. The evidence of whether program effects persist and transmit to the next generation is highly policy relevant as current debate about the funding for such social programs may underestimate their benefits.
Natalie Bau
University of California-Los Angeles
Teresa Molina
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Marieke Kleemans
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
JEL Classifications
  • O1 - Economic Development
  • I1 - Health