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Driva, Anastasia (2017): Empirical essays on human capital investments in health and education. Dissertation, LMU München: Volkswirtschaftliche Fakultät
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Abstract

The first chapter investigates the impact on mortality of the world's first compulsory health insurance, established by Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of the German Empire, in 1884. Employing a multi-layered empirical setup, we draw on international comparisons and difference-in-differences estimations using Prussian administrative panel data to exploit differences in eligibility for insurance across occupations. All approaches yield a consistent pattern suggesting that Bismarck's Health Insurance generated a significant mortality reduction. The results are largely driven by a decline of deaths from infectious diseases. We present prima facie evidence that diffusion of new hygiene knowledge through physicians might have been an important channel. The second chapter looks into the determinants of the gender gap in financial literacy - an important correlate of financial wealth - which are largely unknown. We confirm the existence of the gap already among teenagers and report an association with gender stereotypes related to household finance. The third chapter analyses the effect of being eligible for universal childcare for one more year, in Germany, on health lifestyle outcomes later in life. Empirical evidence on childcare attendance and health lifestyle outcomes remains mixed and inconclusive. I exploit the introduction of a legal claim to a place in kindergarten in 1996 which made entry to earlier formal childcare conditional on a date-of-birth cutoff rule. In the years that followed the reform, this legal claim led to a substantial increase in the number of children attending formal childcare at the age of three. In an intention-to-treat design, I find no statistically significant effects for earlier eligibility being associated to better long-term health lifestyle outcomes. I provide alternative explanations that could help pin down the mechanisms behind these findings, including the role of family background and selection of specific types into childcare.