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Na’ama Shenhav

Senior Economist
Microeconomic Research
Labor economics, Gender, Education

Naama.Shenhav (at) sf.frb.org

Profiles: Personal website

Working Papers
Long-Run Effects of Incentivizing Work After Childbirth

2023-27 | with Kuka | June 2023


This paper identifies the impact of increasing post-childbirth work incentives on mothers’ long-run careers. We exploit variation in work incentives across mothers based on the timing of a first birth and eligibility for the 1993 expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. Ten to nineteen years after a first birth, single mothers who were exposed to the expansion immediately after birth (“early”), rather than 3 6 years later (“late”), have 0.62 more years of work experience and 4.2% higher earnings conditional on working. We show that higher earnings are primarily explained by improved wages due to greater work experience.

Published Articles (Refereed Journals and Volumes)
Selection into Identification in Fixed Effects Models with Application to Head Start

Journal of Human Resources 58(5), September 2023, 1,523-1,566 | with Miller and Grosz


Many papers use fixed effects (FE) to identify causal impacts of an intervention. When treatment status only varies within some FE groups (e.g., families, for family fixed effects), FE can induce non-random selection of groups into the identifying sample, which we term selection into identification (SI). This paper empirically documents SI in the context of several family fixed effects (FFE) applications with a binary treatment. We show that the characteristics of the FFE identifying sample are different than the overall sample (and the policy-relevant population), including having larger families. The main implication of this is that when treatment effects are heterogeneous, the FE estimate may not be representative of the average treatment effect (ATE). We show that a reweighting-on-observables FE estimator can help recover the ATE for policy-relevant populations, and recommend its use either as a primary estimator or as a diagnostic tool to assess the importance of SI. We apply these insights to re-examine the long-term effects of Head Start in the PSID and the CNLSY using FFE. When we reweight the FFE estimates, we find that Head Start leads to a 2.6 percentage point (p.p.) increase (s.e. = 6.2 p.p.) in the likelihood of attending some college for white Head Start participants in the PSID. This participants’ ATE is 78% smaller than the traditional FFE estimate (12 p.p). We also find that the CNLSY Head Start participants’ ATE is smaller than the FE estimates. This raises new concerns with the external validity of FE estimates.

Women’s Suffrage and Children’s Education

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 13(3), August 2021, 374-405 | with Kose and Kuka


While a growing literature shows that women, relative to men, prefer greater investment in children, it is unclear whether empowering women produces better economic outcomes. Exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in U.S. suffrage laws, we show that exposure to suffrage during childhood led to large increases in educational attainment for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially Blacks and Southern Whites. We also find that suffrage led to higher earnings alongside education gains, although not for Southern Blacks. Using newly digitized data, we show that education increases are primarily explained by suffrage-induced growth in education spending, although early-life health improvements may have also contributed.

Lowering Standards to Wed? Spouse Quality, Marriage, and Labor Market Responses to the Gender Wage Gap

The Review of Economics and Statistics 103(2), May 2021, 265-279


This paper examines the effect of the female-to-male wage ratio, “relative wage,” on women’s spouse quality, marriage, and labor supply over three decades. Exploiting task-based demand shifts as a shock to relative pay, I find that a higher relative wage (a) increases the quality of women’s mates, as measured by higher spousal education; (b) reduces marriage without substitution to cohabitation; and (c) raises women’s hours of work. These effects are consistent with a model in which a higher relative wage increases the minimum nonpecuniary benefits (“quality”) women require from a spouse and therefore reduce marriage among low-quality husbands.

A Century of the American Woman Voter: Sex Gaps in Political Participation, Preferences, and Partisanship Since Women’s Enfranchisement

Journal of Economic Perspectives 34(2), Spring 2020, 24-48 | with Cascio


This year marks the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, which provided American women a constitutional guarantee to the franchise. We assemble data from a variety of sources to document and explore trends in women’s political participation, issue preferences, and partisanship since that time. We show that in the early years following enfranchisement, women voted at much lower rates than men and held distinct issue preferences, despite splitting their votes across parties similarly to men. But by the dawn of the twenty-first century, women not only voted more than men, but also voted differently, systematically favoring the Democratic party. We find that the rise in women’s relative voter turnout largely reflects cross-cohort changes in voter participation and coincided with increasing rates of high school completion. By contrast, women’s relative shift toward the Democratic party permeates all cohorts and appears to owe more to changes in how parties have defined themselves than to changes in issue preferences. The findings suggest that a confluence of factors have led to the unique place women currently occupy in the American electorate, one where they are arguably capable of exerting more political influence than ever before.

Do Human Capital Decisions Respond to the Returns to Education? Evidence from DACA

American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 12(1), February 2020, 293-324 | with Kuka and Shih


This paper studies human capital responses to the availability of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary work authorization and deferral from deportation for undocumented, high-school-educated youth. We use a sample of young adults that migrated to the United States as children to implement a difference-in-difference design that compares noncitizen immigrants (“eligible”) to citizen immigrants (“ineligible”) over time. We find that DACA significantly increased high school attendance and high school graduation rates, reducing the citizen-noncitizen gap in graduation by 40 percent. We also find positive, though imprecise, impacts on college attendance.

A Reason to Wait: The Effect of Legal Status on Teen Pregnancy

American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings 109, May 2019, 213-217 | with Kuka and Shih


Although teen pregnancy has been on the decline in the United States, it remains among the highest within developed countries. Hispanics, who are more likely to be undocumented immigrants, lead this trend, yet the role of legal status has yet to be considered. To investigate this question, we examine teenage fertility responses to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides temporary legal status to undocumented youth. We find that DACA reduced the likelihood of having a teenage birth by 1.6 percentage points and eliminated roughly half of the gap in teenage childbearing between documented and undocumented women.

FRBSF Publications