Publications by Author: Field, Erica M

Field, Erica M., Nava Ashraf, and Jean N. Lee. 2007. “Gender, Intrahousehold Decisionmaking, and the Demand for Children”. Abstract

We present evidence from a field experiment in Lusaka, Zambia that male involvement in the decision to seek out family planning services leads to substantial reductions in utilization. This phenomenon appears to be driven by average differences by gender in the demand for children rather than by a general distrust of or lack of information about family planning technologies among men. Study participants were offered a voucher that granted access to an appointment with a family planning nurse without a wait in line. Demand for family planning services is high, as evidenced by the 41 percent overall rate at which these vouchers were redeemed. Women were randomly assigned to receive the voucher either by themselves in private, or together with their husbands. Takeup among women assigned to receive the vouchers with their husbands was 9 percentage points (18 percent) lower than among women randomly assigned to receive the vouchers alone. We find evidence that this reduction in takeup was larger if husbands wanted more children than their wives, and stronger evidence that this reduction was larger among young couples than among older couples with completed fertility. There is no evidence that assignment to couples treatment reduces voucher use for women whose husbands want no more children, and evidence for a 12 percentage point reduction in use in the subsample of women whose husbands do want more children. Taken together, these results suggest that the unitary and collective bargaining models do not sufficiently richly describe the bargaining process over fertility within the household. Furthermore, policies or technologies that shift relative control of contraceptive methods from men to women may significantly increase contraceptive use and reduce average fertility in some contexts.

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Field, Erica M., and Attila Ambrus. 2006. “Early Marriage and Female Schooling in Bangladesh”. Abstract

This paper provides empirical evidence of the influence of adolescent marriage opportunities on female schooling attainment and gives predictions of the impact of imposing universal age-of-consent laws. Using data from rural Bangladesh, we explore the commonly cited hypotheses that women attain less schooling as a result of marrying young. We isolate the causal effect of marriage timing by exploiting variation in the timing of menarche as an instrumental variable for age of first marriage. Our results indicate that marriage age matters: Each additional year that marriage is delayed is associated with 0.30 additional years of schooling and 6.5% higher probability of literacy. Delayed marriage is also associated with a significant increase in use of preventive health care services, some of which appears to be independent of the change in schooling, indicating separate “age effects” of delaying marriage. In the context of competitive marriage markets we show that the above results can be used to obtain estimates of the change in equilibrium female education that would arise from introducing a minimum legal age of marriage. The resulting analysis implies that, under reasonable assumptions, enforcing universal age of consent laws would have a strong positive impact on female schooling.

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Field, Erica M., and Alfred J. Field. 2006. “Globalization, Poverty and Crop Choice in Rural Peru”. Abstract

This paper describes the results of initial work analyzing a panel of rural households in Peru between 1994 and 2004 to determine household responses to changes in relative prices of traditional versus export-oriented products. Our principal interest was to better understand how household responses to external economic shocks influenced rural welfare, income distribution and poverty. Since a large percentage of Peruvians living in poverty are located in rural areas, learning more about how these households respond to a changing external environment provides insights into the factors that influence their ability to improve their absolute and relative economic position.

The results of our analysis indicate that changes in relative prices had a significant impact on the adoption of new agricultural products, and the magnitude of response was mitigated by households’ degree of tenure security and access to regional and local markets. Analysis of household expenditures over the period indicate that those who adopted export crops experienced a significant growth in consumption proportional to the change in acreage devoted to exportable products, and were less likely to be classified as impoverished at the end of the period. Instrumental variables estimates suggest that this association is causal.

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Also WIDER Research Paper No. 2007/72.

Field, Erica M., and Michael Kremer. 2006. “Impact Evaluation for Slum Upgrading Interventions”. Abstract

The 2003 United Nations Global Report on Human Settlements estimates that 924 million people, or 31.6% of the world’s urban population, lived in slums in 2001. Although forecasts are difficult, it is generally agreed that this number could greatly increase in coming years in the absence of strong policy interventions. These trends underscore the importance of slum upgrading strategies for addressing the growing problems of urban poverty.

Upgrading projects focus on providing basic services to improve the well-being of low income communities, including a range of infrastructure interventions frequently undertaken in conjunction with social interventions, such as the regularization of areas with insecure tenure. Other infrastructure improvements include water, sanitation, waste collection, housing, access roads, footpaths, storm drainage, lighting, public telephones, schools, health posts and community centers. Social improvements can include better provision of health and education services, day care, training, and social protection programs. With the projected increases in slum population, the demand for urban upgrading interventions is expected to grow.

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