Job Market Paper
The Intergenerational Health Effects of the U.S. Bombing Campaign in Cambodia


I investigate the long-term persistence of negative health effects of the United States' Cambodian bombing campaign of 1969-1973. I use detailed information from official U.S. military records on the timing, location, and intensity of bombing in combination with two rounds of Demographic and Health Surveys to estimate intergenerational health effects experienced by children born between 1995 and 2005 to mothers who were in utero during the bombing campaign. I identify effects of the bombing by exploiting within-location cohort variation in exposure. Children born to mothers who were in utero during periods of intense local bombing have substantially lower weight-for-age Z-scores. Height-for-age Z-scores (HAZs) are also reduced among children older than 24 months. If a mother experienced the average exposure of 187 tons of bombs within a 10-km radius of her birthplace while she was in utero, her child's HAZ is decreased by 0.4 SD. Stunting perpetuation seems to be one of the mechanisms of transmission because in utero exposure of the mother is also associated with a 0.25 SD reduction in her adult height-for-age. These results imply that the legacy of the U.S. military campaign may explain a nontrivial portion the low health capital among current-day third-generation postbombing Cambodians.


Work in progress

An Honor and a Privilege: The Effect of an Honors College on Completion and College Quality (with Ted Joyce)


Many universities in the U.S. offer separate honors college programs within their institution, and many high-caliber students consider these options because of the scholarship they usually offer. Some populations are particularly subject to these material trade-offs on their school choice. We investigate the effect of an honors college (HC) on time to degree, college quality and costs using the administrative data of applicants and institutional characteristics of colleges. We implement a regression discontinuity design based on an estimated SAT admission threshold to investigate the effects of enrollment on our outcomes. Results suggests that the marginal applicant who enrolls in the honors college does not experience differences in four- or six-year graduation rates compared to the applicants who just missed being accepted. Marginal students who enroll in the HC do not forego college quality and institutions attended by students not enrolled in the HC cost $18,334 more per year than the HC. Our findings suggest that honors colleges at flagship public universities are a competitive alternative to selective private colleges and universities. Draft to be posted soon.