Three essays in development economics: The case of Vietnam
This dissertation empirically explores changes in the economic behavior of households and firms in the Vietnamese economy after the Doi Moi reforms. First, this research analyzes food expenditure patterns of households in Vietnam from 1993 to 2006 and estimates their income and price elasticities. Unlike previous studies, the paper estimates a complete demand system using the censored Quadratic Almost Ideal Demand System to control for zero expenditures in some categories. The results suggest that food expenditure patterns are quite consistent although there are some shifts in food consumption overtime to more healthy bundles. The paper shows that the expenditure elasticity for the rice and cereal group decreases overtime. A one percent increase in income increases consumption within this group by 0.70 percent in 1993 but only 0.48 percent in 2006 while a rise of one percent in prices reduces rice consumption by 0.88 percent in 1993 and 0.96 percent in 2006. The second paper explores the link between household migration on household food security and nutrition using a panel data of households in 2004 and 2006. The paper finds that short-term migration has a positive impact on nutrition through increased per adult equivalent food expenditures, greater calories per adult equivalent consumed, and a more diversified diet. Short-term migration is found to be linked to shocks faced by the household suggesting that households are using short-term migration to maintain food security in the face of uncertainty. The third paper aims to advance our understanding of wage and productivity differentials between male and female workers in Vietnam. The paper also examines the factors influencing a firm's decision to hire female labor. We find no evidence of wage discrimination based on an analysis of the gender gap in wages and the gender gap in productivity. Our estimates instead suggest that on average female wages are 81 percent of male wages, while female productivity is only 41 percent of male productivity. This suggests that women receive a subsidy. This wage premium seems to be higher in state-owned enterprises. We also find that in state-owned enterprises unskilled workers seem to enjoy additional benefits or compensation (wage premium) compared to workers in the in private sector. Moreover, our analysis of female participation in firms indicates that the size of the firm and the sector in which a firm belongs to are statistically significant across models and seem to have a large impact on female employment. Firms that have a larger percentage of export sales are found to be more likely to employ women, while those firms that face corruption and stability constraints employ fewer women.