Prasanthi Ramakrishnan


This article analyzes the changes in family structure, fertility behavior, and the division of labor within the household from the Silent generation (cohort born in 1940-49) to the Millennial generation (cohort born in 1980-89). Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, this article documents the main trends and life-cycle profiles for each generation. The main findings are that (i) the wage-age profile has been shifting down over generations, especially for Millennial men; (ii) the returns to a four-year college degree or higher for men have increased for all generations; (iii) Millennials enjoy a higher level of leisure than previous generations; (iv) the housework hours for women have clearly declined over generations, while the housework hours for Millennial men are higher than those of the previous generations of men; (iv) less-educated individuals have retreated from marriage, especially Millennials, while more-educated individuals have delayed marriage; (v) divorce rates have risen, with Millennials most likely to divorce, but the longer a couple is married, the likelihood of divorce has decreased over generations; and (vi) the Millennials’ completed fertility rate is likely to be the lowest among all generations 

Working Papers

Awarded 2021 Dissertation Fellowship through the Boston College Center for Retirement Research and the Social Security Administration (SSA)

The social security system is non-neutral with respect to marriage, with married couples able to receive 150 percent of the primary earner’s benefits (spousal benefits). This paper asks how changes in tax and retirement policy affect education and marriage. I first document trends relating to social security and household structure and then build a structural model with endogenous education and marriage, where households are modeled in a collective-household setup as compared to a standard unitary model. Contrary to models where the returns to education are only through the labor market, increasing payroll taxes leads to a marginal increase in those who invest in college, while reducing those who choose to remain single. Thus, marriage and within-household decisions respond to tax and retirement, affecting standard education-retirement tradeoffs. Removal of spousal benefits or joint income taxation results in reducing the economic benefit of marriage and work. This leads to increased labor force participation by married females; however, removal of spousal benefits leads to higher singlehood rates, higher college investment, and higher male labor force participation, while that of joint income taxation results in lower male labor force participation and marginal change in college investment or singlehood rates. This arises primarily due to the modeling of the collective household, where both spouses’ decisions matter. 

We study the role informal mentoring can play in bridging the gender gap in venture financing. Mentors can play two roles: financial and role model. Using data from Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN), we document the characteristics of the matched pairs, their funding patterns and then estimate the relative ‘value’ of a match using Fox (2018) model. Female-Female matches benefit more from the role-model aspect, compared to Male-Male matches. Close to 20 percent of the gains from homophily is from financial aspect for males; this number is <1 percent for females.

This paper combines quasi-experimental approaches with a structural model to estimate the level of moral hazard in health care utilization. It uses an unanticipated change in the healthcare system of Jamaica from a means-tested user fee regime to one with 100 percent state funding in 2008 for this purpose. As the poor had free access to medical services in public hospitals, this provides exogenous price variation in the public health sector as compared to the private health sector. Using data from the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC) for the years 2004 to 2012, the paper first uses a non-linear difference-in-difference approach to evaluate the effect of this change on facility usage (public versus private) as well as on frequency of visit. It finds evidence indicating the possibility of a ‘crowding out’, suggesting that a universal health care policy may lead to redistribution away from the poor. The paper then extends Cardon and Hendel (2001) model to allow for choice of type of hospital (public or private) and shows how the quasi-experimental variation allows for identification of the structural parameters of the model. It then uses estimated model to quantify the welfare implications of moral hazard and the level of redistribution away from the poor.

White males are two-and-a-half times more likely to be entrepreneurs than black males. Already present at the start of their careers, this gap continues to widen as individuals age. Using a life cycle model of occupational choice we study various mechanisms explaining this gap. In the model individuals can choose whether to work and whether to be paid- or self-employed. Their choices are affected by their endowment of wealth and human capital as well as by the process through which they transform these resources into earnings, a process which includes borrowing constraints. Their decisions are also influenced by their risk preferences and their non-pecuniary preferences for being self-employed. We estimate the model separately by race using data from the PSID. The estimates show that the main sources explaining the gap in entrepreneurship between black and white males are the returns to capital and the idea profitability distribution.

Work in Progress

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