Three Essays on Economic Demography




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



There are three essays in my dissertation. The first essay examines the effect of participation in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program on the distribution of household labor supply. Receiving benefits from this subsidy program has two opposing effects on individual labor supply. Recipients have an incentive to work less since the subsidy program complements their job income. However, recipients also have an incentive to work more because the subsidy program covers part of their living costs thereby reducing the cost of working. This study examines the effects of the WIC program on the gender distribution of working hours in participating households by analyzing the importance of WIC program eligibility rules for household income. Results show that recipients respond to benefits differently: participating females work less while males work more. The second essay examines the impact of losing access to a government nutrition subsidy (the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program) on single mothers. Single mothers are more likely to find a partner if marriage or cohabitation as an outcome makes them feel economically safer and better off than they would feel as a single mother. This study uses the age of a household’s youngest child as a running variable. When the youngest child reaches five years of age their household is no longer eligible for WIC benefits. This loss of benefits represents an exogenous shock with which I can estimate the impact of losing WIC program benefits and its impact on single mothers. Results show that single mothers are more likely to cohabitate with males once they lose WIC program benefits because of this age restriction. The third essay is a descriptive analysis of marriage market behaviors and individual demographic behaviors. Its research question regards whether there is any correlation between changes in intra-racial marriage market conditions and individual cohabitation behaviors. To address this question I use a two-period marriage model to explore the relationship between cohabitation and marriage market conditions. Results show that for males, the individual probability of cohabitation and interracial cohabitation is positively correlated with sex ratio and negatively correlated with population in the marriage market. For females, the probability of cohabitation is positively correlated with sex ratio and population in the marriage market. Interracial cohabitation is negatively correlated with sex ratio in the marriage market.



Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (U.S.), Labor supply, Marriage, Unmarried couples, Single mothers, Demography


©2018 The Author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Eugene McDermott Library. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.