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Title: Essays on Fertility, Contraceptive, & Savings Behaviors in Developing Countries
Authors: Gupta, Nikhil Anand
Advisors: Vogl, Tom
Contributors: Economics Department
Keywords: commitment savings devices
contraceptive choice
lifecycle fertility
Subjects: Economics
Economic theory
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This thesis consists of three chapters, studying fertility behavior, contraceptive behavior, and savings behavior in developing countries, respectively. In the first chapter (with Ishita Rajani), I provide one explanation for the conflicting literatures regarding how family planning programs impact completed and short-run fertility. I first construct a lifecycle model of fertility control choice to show that improved contraceptive access can shift births earlier in the lifecycle due to improved control over fertility outcomes, increasing short-run fertility while decreasing completed fertility. I then empirically confirm these predictions exploiting the legalization of injectables in Zambia. My results suggest that access to modern contraceptives is welfare-improving for women, despite having counterintuitive implications for fertility. In the second chapter (with Ishita Rajani), I descriptively analyze patterns in sub-Saharan African women's lifecycle contraceptive usage. Estimating individual fixed effects regressions, I find a collection of results consistent with women: (1) using injectables and pills primarily to space births when aged 25--40; (2) using implants and female sterilizations primarily to limit births when aged 40--49; and (3) using condoms primarily when unmarried and having less frequent sex than their married counterparts. Together, these results suggest that women's lifecycle contraceptive demand is driven by different fertility needs at different ages of their fertile life. In the third chapter, I propose a proof-of-concept model embedding demand for commitment devices within an intra-personal reputation game to explain why take-up of commitment devices is low, even among individuals exhibiting time-inconsistent preferences. In my model, high and low willpower agents trade-off a desire to forestall future temptation spending with a desire to maintain the belief that they have high willpower. In equilibrium, when high willpower agents refrain from using the commitment savings device, low willpower agents refrain as well. To provide savings devices to such agents, a utilitarian social planner optimally offers a commitment savings device that bundles different types of agents. While a monopolist can (sub-optimally) provide such bundling devices, competitive markets cannot unless the costs of providing flexibility to accounts is low. My results reinforce the importance of understanding how to make commitment accounts with soft commitment features more efficacious.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics

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