Theses Doctoral

The Economics of Adolescents' Time Allocation: Evidence from the Young Agent Project in Brazil

Martinez Restrepo, Susana

What are the socioeconomic implications of the time allocation decisions made by low-income adolescents? The way adolescents allocate their time between schooling, labor and leisure has important implications for their education attainment, college aspirations, job opportunities and future earnings. This study focuses on adolescents and young adults in urban areas of Brazil that, due to household income constraints, family or peer pressures enter the labor market at an early age, stop studying, and/or start engaging into risky behaviors, such as drug use or sexual activities. The key policy question in this context is then: what incentives could prove an efficient tool to change the time allocation patterns and behaviors that make adolescents drop out of school, fall pregnant (or impregnate) or consume drugs? This dissertation uses data from the Young Agent Project (YAP) a Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program targeting exclusively adolescents in Brazil to examine this issue. This program targets adolescents aged 15 to 17 and its goals are to improve the socioeconomic and educational outcomes of youth in Brazil. The research in the dissertation seeks to determine whether the program has indeed influenced or not the time allocation decisions of low-income youth in Brazil, thus improving their socioeconomic and educational outcomes. The research addresses this issue in three different levels of analysis: 1) whether the YAP has affected schooling outcomes, youth labor decisions and risky behaviors, by gender, ethnicity or region, 2) whether transferring cash directly to the adolescent is more efficient than transferring to the parents, on improving schooling, labor and risky behavior outcomes, and 3) Whether the number of hours per week dedicated to the YAP's after school program is a strong predictor of better outcomes. The data used is the 2006 Projeto Agente Jovem dataset, which is a matched non-experimental, with a treatment group and a constructed control group. This dataset is representative of the recipients of the YAP across regions, states, genders and racial composition, which was administered to 2,210 households with adolescents aged 16 to 20 at least one year after having finished the program. For the analysis, this study used econometric techniques such as Propensity Score Matching (Average Treatment Effect on the Treated, Nearest Neighbor with Replacement) and performed robustness checks with a sensitivity analysis by comparing the treatment effects obtained from linear regression and Inverse Probability of Treatment Weighting.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Comparative and International Education
Thesis Advisors
Rivera-Batiz, Francisco
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 11, 2012