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Essays on cost of living and household welfare
Cost of living is a crucial factor affecting the well-being of households and their decision-making. Housing is the largest determinant of living cost in most developed countries while the change in food prices has a significant impact on household welfare in developing countries. A broader definition of price may include time as well since households make choices under time constraints. This dissertation investigates the decision-making process of individuals and their families in response to the change in cost of living. The first chapter investigates the increasing commuting time due to deteriorating home affordability in central city areas and how this affects female workers in terms of labor participation. Results show an increase in commuting time due to lower home affordability occurs simultaneously with lower labor force participation among married women. Next, the second chapter explores the distributional impact of tariff increase on rice imports in Nigeria. The study presents welfare effects of the price increase by estimating the welfare change among consumers and producers, using the AIDS model which estimates own and cross price elasticities and income elasticities. The findings from the elasticity estimation suggests that richer households face greater welfare loss due to higher dependence on imported rice while local farmers experience limited benefits from the price increase. Finally, the third chapter examines how women’s employment and working hours affect the well-being of household members including women themselves under gendered time allocation on housework. Using data from urban Bangladesh, the welfare effects are comprehensively examined based on the information on household expenditure on food, children’s clothing and shoes, children’s educational attainment, and women’s mental health status. The results indicate that working women spend less on children’s shoes and clothing, encounter greater fatigue and less satisfaction during leisure time, and have limited capability to assist children to obtain better educational attainment.