Ida Lykke Kristiansen defends her PhD thesis

Ida Lykke Kristensen defends her PhD thesis: "Impacts of Childhood Circumstances and Physician Matches on Health and Human Capital Formation"


Ida Lykke Kristensen

Title: "Impacts of Childhood Circumstances and Physician Matches on Health and Human Capital Formation"

Time and place: 30 September 2022 at 15:00, CSS 26.2.21.

Zoom link:, code: 1234.

Assessment Committee

Associate Professor Casper Worm Hansen, Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen (chairman)
Professor Nabinata Datta Gupta, Aarhus Universitet
Professor Emilia Simeonova, Johns Hopkins University

This dissertation contains three self-contained chapters. The three chapters evolve around two large and closely related topics 1) skill formation and 2) socio-economic inequalities. The chapters have one theory in common: The family we grow up in and the experiences we have during childhood affect us throughout life.

In the first chapter, I study the effect of experiencing a severe, yet common, parental health event during childhood.  When a close family member dies or gets severely ill it can impact many aspects of life, which is especially true for a child experiencing a parent's adverse health event. Severe parental health events are not randomly assigned in the population. I, therefore, use two different econometric methods to study the causal impact of these events. I show that children who experience that a parent dies or gets severely ill, have a higher use of therapy and anti-depressant medication. The effect appears immediately and persists into early adulthood. In addition, I find that the children do worse in terms of educational outcomes, the children achieve lower test scores and have lower school enrollment rates. The lower school enrollment rate persists and translates into a lower educational attainment in early adulthood. The result highlights that children are particular sensitive in the transition between different parts of the school system. 

The second chapter is written together with Sophie Yanying Sheng. In this chapter we ask, can primary care physicians from families with low socio-economic status (SES) reduce the socio-economic gradient in health? We find that when low-SES patients are allocated to a physician with a similar family background, their health is improved. The health of high-SES patients is unaffected by their physician's family background. We find that SES concordance between physician and patient reduces a substantial part of the SES gradient in mortality. This effect is mainly driven by a large reduction in the SES gradient in cardiovascular mortality. To investigate how SES concordance reduces patient mortality, we study patients' health behavior and treatments in the primary care setting. Low-SES patients with low-SES physicians receive more care at the intensive margin; make more office visits per year, receive more services per visit, and get more medical services from medical specialists. SES concordance increases detection of chronic conditions and adherence to treatment for patients with pre-existing conditions.

The third and final chapter is written together with Mikkel Aagaard Houmark, Cecilie Marie Løchte Jørgensen, and Miriam Gensowski. In this chapter, we study how children's socio-emotional skills and well-being in adolescence are affected by an increase in the duration of parental care during infancy. We exploit a reform from 2002 that extended paid parental leave and effectively delayed children's entry into formal out-of-home care. We show that longer leave increases adolescent well-being, conscientiousness, and emotional stability, and reduces school absenteeism measured around age 14. The effects are strongest for children of mothers who would have taken short leave in absence of the reform. The result highlights that time spent with a parent is particularly productive during very early childhood.