Essays on Child Labor and Agricultural Decision-making in response to Natural Disasters & Climate Change
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This dissertation consists of three papers. In India, Ethiopia and Vietnam, rural households face a choice between allocating a child’s time between education, household chores, farm wage labor, non-agricultural wage labor, working on the family farm, or on producing handicrafts and services within the household enterprise. Droughts alter the child’s marginal value of time between these activities by affecting the productivity of agrarian economic activities and opportunity cost of school attendance. The first paper studies the impact of droughts on rural child labor. First, a theoretical model was developed to provide the underlying intuition. Next, the relationship between the incidence, frequency and scale of droughts on participation in rural child labor (Extensive Margin Analysis) and hours devoted to specific child labor activities (Intensive Margin Analysis) was empirically studied using the Young Lives dataset for children in rural India, Ethiopia and Vietnam. Urban households depend largely on non-agrarian economic activities and are less vulnerable to droughts. But damaged capital, infrastructure and schools, due to floods, cyclones, tornadoes or hurricanes, influence the allocation of an urban child’s time between schooling and child labor activities. The second paper studies this impact of floods, cyclones, tornadoes and hurricanes on urban child labor in India, Ethiopia and Vietnam. In particular, this paper studied the relationship between the incidence, frequency and scale of cyclones, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods on participation in urban child labor (Extensive Margin Analysis) and hours devoted to specific urban child labor activities (Intensive Margin Analysis). The third paper details the development of crop-yield response curves for a BioEarth hydro-economic optimization model for the Yakima River Basin. The Leontief, piecewise linear and polynomial specifications for crop-yield functions were reviewed. Next, raw crop data from VIC-CropSyst process-based model was modified and selecting the relevant criteria, the specification that best fits the crop data was determined. Finally, the results show that for most crops and irrigation districts, the piecewise linear specification provides a better fit to the VIC-CropSyst crop growth data. Since the non-linear nature of this specification may cause computational difficulties in the optimization model, a polynomial specification is recommended.