Essays in Development Economics
This dissertation consists of three chapters. The first chapter investigates how the historical development of Protestantism may contribute to explain current literacy disparities in India. Combining information about the spatial distribution of Protestant missions in India at the end of the nineteenth century with contemporary district-level data, I find a strong long-term relationship between the historical exposure to Protestant missions and current literacy. I then verify that this relationship is not driven by unobserved characteristics that may affect both current literacy outcomes as well as the missionaries' location decisions. The second chapter exploits local variations in the historical exposure to Christianity to explain current differences in individual HIV-related sexual behaviors in Africa. I find that exposure to the presence of Catholic missions at the end of the nineteenth century is associated with a decrease in current HIV infection rates. I also examine whether historical Catholic and Protestant missions have a different impact on individual sexual behaviors. I find that Catholicism, while having a small negative impact on the propensity of condom use, is positively associated with the adoption of safer forms of sexual behavior (pre-marriage sexual abstinence, delay of first sexual intercourse and marital faithfulness). Finally, in the third chapter I examine the impact of international migration and remittances on the labor supply of the family members left behind. Using data from Albania, I find that international migration has a significant impact on labor force participation. Remittances receipts from abroad determine a substitution effect away from the labor market, particularly for the female population.