This dissertation is composed of three essays in international economics and finance, which share a common focus on understanding the micro-foundation of capital flows and the subsequent global economic cycle. The first essay shows US equity mutual funds respond significantly to a measure of expected excess return we predict. However, costly deviations from two benchmark portfolios lead to a weaker and more gradual response of portfolio to changes in expected excess returns. Building upon these findings, the second essay documents country shares of zero in international portfolio choice. Here I show the portfolio impulse response of equity mutual funds to an expected excess return shock is higher and more persistent than estimated when ignoring the zeros. The third essay shows that following a downturn of the global financial cycle, the US Treasury premium increases and the US real exchange rate appreciates. Moreover, the more the US Treasury premium increases following the downturn of the global financial cycle, the more the US real exchange rate appreciates.
This thesis explores two crucial elements of the promotion of sustainable development: the provision of access to health and the reduction of gender disparities. The first contribution of this work is the exploration of cultural norms that may reduce gender inequalities. In particular, how religious beliefs can lead to more gender equality and a lower gender gap. This thesis investigates then the impact of major health interventions on socioeconomic outcomes in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Firstly, this research investigates the role of major health interventions on social violence and conflicts. Adverse health shocks can generate social instability and violence when governments are not able to respond to them. This work shows how health policies, such as the introduction and provision of treatment for HIV, have led to a reduction in social unrest. As a final point, this thesis investigates whether health policies can be used as an effective tool to empower women. Women and men are affected unequally by adverse health events, such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which can lead to a rise in the gender gap. This work shows how the availability of HIV medications reversed this trend contributing to women empowerment.
This thesis consists of three independent essays focusing on the fields of labor economics and the economics of education. These essays study the factors and policies that impact how people make education and labor supply decisions. The findings inform public policy related to family policies and social insurance to ensure more equitable outcomes for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.
Chapter One finds that income risk has a large and negative ex-ante impact on educational attainments among poor, rural households in India dependent on income from rainfed agriculture. It decreases the number of completed years of schooling, increases the share of people with only primary level education, and decreases the share of people with secondary or higher education. In addition, it increases the likelihood that girls’ education gets interrupted leading them to fall behind, and decreases the amount that households spend on girls’ education.
The second and third chapters relate to family policies, female labor supply, fertility, and gender gaps. The second chapter reveals that introducing a new national mandate providing paid maternity leave only had small and temporary effects on the labor market outcomes of first-time mothers but did raise the share of women having a second child by three percentage points. The third and final chapter shows that the same mandate had an overall negative impact on first-time mothers, decreasing employment and earnings. In addition, it increased slightly the gender gap in total employment but decreased substantially the gap in earnings and wages among those with an older child.
This thesis is composed of three essays that employ theoretical approaches to model certain market situations in the field of behavioral economics and industrial organization. Chapter 1 studies the role of overconfidence in tournaments where players choose effort provision as well as risk exposure, and shows that, against the common idea, overconfidence can raise effort provision and leads to lower risk-taking. Chapter 2 explores the speed of copycat entry in vertically differentiated markets in which consumers differ in their willingness to pay. This paper identifies welfare-reducing incentives to enter the market which lead to an extended monopoly situation despite costless entry. Chapter 3 analyses the welfare implications of switching from a commission-based to a fee-based remuneration model in markets where consumers rely on expert advice. This study identifies a mechanism through which the number of consumers buying in equilibrium decreases and provokes the question of whether a paradigm shift away from compensation through commissions towards transactional fees is worth the drawbacks.