Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Mihaela Pintea

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee chair

Second Advisor's Name

Norihiko Matsuda

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Third Advisor's Name

Sheng Guo

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Shaoming Cheng

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee member


fertility, women labor supply, birth order effects, regression discontinuity, Romania

Date of Defense



This dissertation follows a three-essay format. The first chapter examines the mechanism behind birth order effects. The second and third chapters analyze the impact of paid maternity leave on fertility rate, women's labor force participation, and family living arrangements.

The literature primarily suggests that, in developed countries, first-born children have better educational outcomes than their siblings; meanwhile, in developing countries, first-born children perform worse than their siblings. In the first chapter, co-authored with Mihaela I. Pintea, Ph.D., we use parental income during childhood and family fixed effects estimation to test if financial resources contribute to birth order effects on educational attainment. We find positive birth order effects among low-income households and statistically negative effects among wealthier households in the United States. This pattern suggests that financial resources may drive the effects of birth order on educational attainment.

Maternity leave aims to improve family well-being and promote women's career continuity. In the second chapter, I use a regression discontinuity design and difference-in-differences estimation to analyze maternity leave's effects on subsequent fertility and mother's labor force participation. My findings show that maternity leave increases subsequent fertility by 3 percentage points and has no significant impact on mothers' employment two years after the policy was implemented.

Policymakers need research on various outcomes to assess the net effect of a policy. The effect of paid maternity leave on marital stability is an under-researched topic. In the third chapter, using the same identification strategy I use in the second chapter, I study how two paid maternity leave reforms impact family living arrangements (i.e., single motherhood, married parents, divorced parents). The main mechanisms through which family living arrangements may be affected are the change in income and improvement in the mother's bargaining power. The reform implemented in 1990 had no significant effects on these outcomes. The reform implemented in 1997 decreased parents' probability of being married by 1.1 percentage points and increased the likelihood of single motherhood by 1.2 percentage points.





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