Essays on poverty in India and the U.S.
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This study consists of three empirical works that analyze the implications of poverty. The first paper estimates whether female-headed households are poorer than their male-headed counterparts in India, using household data from the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) for the year 2005-06. I use different poverty measures that reflect people’s permanent income rather than the official measure based on consumption expenditure, employ probit and logit estimations, and find very limited evidence of female-headed households being poorer than male-headed households. Specifically, poverty measures based on the housing condition and the wealth indices show that female-headed households are less poor than male-headed households. Based on the standard of living index measure of poverty, female-headed households are only marginally poorer than their male-headed counterparts. The second paper investigates whether the influence of female autonomy on safe maternal and child healthcare differs across rich and poor households in India. We employ a proportional odds model, and find that women with autonomy do not have significantly higher odds of seeking proper maternal and child healthcare. At the same time, women from rich households have higher odds of seeking proper maternal and child healthcare than others. When the households are categorized into different wealth and standard of living quintiles, there is no evidence for any systematic patterns of relationship between autonomy variables and healthcare seeking behavior. The results also point to the fact that female education is a significant determinant of safe maternal and child healthcare, regardless of the economic status of the household. The third paper estimates the effects of initial (1979) level of poverty and income inequality on subsequent economic growth (between 1979 and 1999) for the U.S. counties using the U.S. decennial Census data for the years 1980 and 2000. I use the Augmented Solow model of growth, employ spatial regression analysis, and find that counties with lower levels of income inequality and poverty in 1979 experienced higher economic growth between 1979 and 1999 than others. At the same time, counties that experienced higher economic growth between 1979 and 1999 had lower levels of poverty and income inequality in 1999, suggesting the existence of a positive association between poverty and income inequality reduction, and higher economic growth. The results also show that spatial parameters are significant determinants of growth, income inequality and poverty.