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Empirical Essays on Public Policies: Social Insurances, Safety Nets, and Health Care
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics.
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Screening Efficiency in Sickness Insurance: Evidence from a Spell Limit Reform

I estimate the effects of the removal of a limit on sick leave spells in the Swedish Sickness Insurance program, on labor market outcomes and sick leave. The removal of the spell limit led to longer sick leave spells. I also find that the removal led to a reduction in the share of people who are neither working, nor receiving sickness benefits. A conceptual framework is used to interpret the results in terms of benefits screening efficiency, which is found to increase through the removal of the spell limit. The identification is based on a regression discontinuity design, using the timing of sick leave start dates and the abolition of the spell limit.

Long-Term Effects of Cash Transfers: Evidence from a Swedish Reform

Do short-term cash transfers to the poor deliver long-term benefits? This paper studies a unique program introduced in Sweden in the 1930s. The program made large transfers – on average approximately 30 percent of total income in the collected sample – to widows with children. Income and family-size thresholds, combined with child age cutoffs, generate plausibly exogenous variation in program exposure. By digitizing and linking historical records to later administrative datasets, I study the long-term effects of this program. Focusing on life expectancy, I find no significant long-term effects; however, the estimates are imprecisely measured due to the limited sample size.

Inertia of Dominated Pension Investments: Evidence from an Information Intervention

In this paper we empirically investigate potential causes of imperfect competition in the fund market, as characterized by high price dispersion among comparable funds. We discriminate between three main hypotheses on the demand side: a lack of awareness of price dispersion, search costs, and financial illiteracy. A large-scale field experiment is conducted in the Swedish Premium Pension system. Information letters are sent to pension savers in two index funds, where there exists a cheaper fund with the same index strategy. We show that an information intervention that increases awareness of a cheaper, dominating fund, and reduces search costs to find such an alternative, can significantly improve households’ real investment allocations. Nonetheless, a vast majority of savers who are sent information about the name of the dominating fund do not switch funds. Thus, the high degree of inertia in pension investments remains even when search friction for identifying dominating alternatives are eliminated.

Midwives and Maternal Mortality: Evidence from a Midwifery Policy Experiment in 19th Century Sweden

This paper estimates the effect of a historical midwifery policy experiment on maternal mortality, infant mortality, and stillbirth during the period from 1830 to 1894 in Sweden. Exploiting sharp changes or “discontinuities” across time and place in the availability of trained and licensed midwives as an exogenous source of variation, we find that a doubling of trained midwives leads to a 20-40 percent reduction in maternal mortality and to a 20 percent increase in the uptake of midwife-assisted homebirths. The results thus suggest that a 1 percent increase in the share of midwife-assisted homebirths decreases maternal mortality by as much as 2 percent, which is a remarkable finding given that midwife training was only 6-12 months at that time. The results of this study contribute to the current debate about the most effective strategy to reduce the unacceptably high rate of maternal mortality in many developing countries, especially in low-resource settings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Economics, Stockholm University , 2020. , p. 302
Series
Dissertations in Economics, ISSN 1404-3491 ; 2020:3
National Category
Economics
Research subject
Economics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-181023ISBN: 978-91-7911-140-3 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7911-141-0 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-181023DiVA, id: diva2:1426301
Public defence
2020-06-15, sal G, Arrheniuslaboratorierna, Svante Arrhenius väg 20 C, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
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Supervisors
Available from: 2020-05-19 Created: 2020-04-24 Last updated: 2020-05-26Bibliographically approved

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