In this dissertation, I evaluate two approaches that have the potential to improve child welfare, which persists at high levels in the developing world. In the first essay, I evaluate whether the Indian government's child nutrition intervention, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is able to reduce long-term malnutrition in children as measured by stunting. The ICDS provides supplements, peri-natal services, and daycare to targeted villages, and is one of many such programs in the developing world . Previous evaluations of ICDS have not adequately controlled for its targeted nature, introducing downward bias in their estimates, nor have such evaluations in India or elsewhere looked at the program's distributional effects. Controlling for targeting and using new data, I find significant treatment effects particularly for the most malnourished children. Unlike previous studies, I control for non-normality of ICDS coverage; however, like previous work, I find problems with the targeting of the program: while ICDS targets poor areas, it fails to target those with low average education or with unbalanced sex ratios. In the second essay, I examine the impact of an Indian women's empowerment program, Mahila Samakhya on empowerment outcomes. The program aims to empower women through education and by organizing them into support groups. First, I use primary data on 487 women in the state of Uttarakhand to match non-participants with untreated women and establish that the program is not targeted at any particular part of the population. Then, matching women over districts with and without the program, I show that program participants are more likely to (1) work, (2) attend village council meetings, (3) have identification cards to a government employment scheme that give them access to outside employment, and (3) leave the house without permission. My results thus establish that the Mahila Samakhya significantly improves gender empowerment. This study is only the second evaluation of the Mahila Samakhya program and the first to evaluate whether it improves female empowerment. This study is also the first to explore the how employment and social norm might differ in their impact on female empowerment. In the third essay, I quantify the impact of peer network-based learning and influence on female empowerment and child food intake using primary data on networks in Uttarakhand. I use participation in the Mahila Samakhya program to identify increases in the empowerment of the participant herself and her social network. Using a conceptual framework that combines the Nash bargaining framework, the demographic diffusion literature, and identity economics, I characterize three ways in which networks function: social learning, social influence, and identity utility. I then use 3SLS on network-weighted instruments to estimate the relative sizes of these mechanisms on empowerment and child food intake. Results show that female empowerment is significantly affected by social influence and identity through participation, while child food intake benefits most from learning.In the first essay, I evaluate whether the Indian governmenta#39;s child nutrition intervention, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is able to reduce long-term malnutrition in children as measured by stunting.
|Title||:||Three Essays on Investments in Child Welfare in India|