Timea Laura Molnar

I am a PhD job market candidate in the Vancouver School of Economics at the University of British Columbia. I expect to graduate in summer 2017, and will be available for interviews at the CEEE (Toronto, December 2016) and the AEA/ASSA (Chicago, January 2017).

My research fields are in Applied Microeconomics, including Labor and Health Economics, Economics of Education and Public Finance.

My job market paper studies parents’ intra-household time allocation decisions, focusing on parental quality time, and the implications for early childhood development. I am also conducting research on how closely private insurers’ payment schedules follow that of Medicare, on the effect of academic redshirting on student and mental health outcomes, and on the impact of universal childcare availability on mothers’ long-term career paths.

Job Market Paper

Abstract: The classic Beckerian framework predicts that higher-educated parents spend less time with their children since their non-market activities have higher opportunity costs. However, previous research finds the opposite, leading to a "parental time-education gradient” puzzle. I develop a model of intra-household parental time and resource allocation that explains this puzzle. It also offers a mechanism based on heterogeneous time efficiency in non-market activities, that leads higher-educated parents to respond differently to price shocks. Using microdata on young children, I confirm the model's predictions, exploiting an exogenous decrease in the price of daycare in Quebec. I find that parents increase time devoted to their children, at the expense of home production and leisure time, while increasing expenditures on eating out, domestic help, and child market goods; the time reallocation is larger for higher-educated parents. I use the model to estimate structural parameters, which uncover the pivotal role of complementarity between time and market goods in child human capital production, and substitutability in home production. In addition, they suggest a time efficiency advantage in child skill formation for higher-educated parents, outweighing their higher opportunity cost of time. My findings point to differential parental investment as an important mechanism behind the widening skill gaps in early childhood.

[Go to paper]

Working Papers

Abstract: One of private health insurers’ unique roles in the United States is to negotiate physician payment rates on their customers’ behalf. Do private insurers’ payment schedules differ meaningfully from that of Medicare, their public sector counterpart, or is the ostensibly prominent private sector a mirage? We investigate the frequency with which privately negotiated payments deviate from the public sector benchmark using two empirical approaches. The first exploits changes in Medicare’s payment rates and the second exploits dramatic bunching in markups over Medicare rates. Although Medicare’s rates are influential, we find that prices for 25 percent of physician services, representing 45 percent of spending, deviate from this benchmark. To understand private insurers’ objectives, we examine heterogeneity in the pervasiveness and direction of deviations they make from the Medicare benchmark. We show that the Medicare-benchmarked share is high for services provided by small physician groups. It is low for capital-intensive care, for which Medicare’s average-cost reimbursements deviate most from marginal cost. When relative prices deviate from Medicare’s, they adjust towards the marginal costs of treatment. Our results suggest that providers and private insurers coordinate around Medicare’s menu of relative payments for simplicity but–when the value at stake is sufficient–do indeed innovate.

Abstract: There are two main practices to delay school entry by a year: one is compliance with the school enrollment cutoff date, the other is the practice of postponing an age-eligible, but potentially non-school-ready child's school entry---called academic redshirting. In this paper I measure the causal impact of starting school a year older, using Hungarian administrative and survey data for years 2008-2014, and exploiting two discontinuity points in month of birth in an instrumental variable framework. The main institutional feature I exploit is a school-readiness evaluation, compulsory for potentially redshirted children born before 1st January. By comparing children born around 1st January, I measure the combined impact of age and boosted human capital due to academic redshirting. By comparing children born around the 1st June school enrollment cutoff date, I measure the sole age impact of starting school a year older. I look at a rich set of long-term outcomes: mathematics and reading testscores at grades 6/8/10, grade repetition by grades 6/8/10, secondary school track choice and mental stability measures at grade 8. The main findings are: (1) although there are large gains for all children, disadvantaged boys benefit the most from delayed school entry; (2) the combined impact of age and boosted human capital is larger and longer-lasting on outcomes, where disadvantaged boys enjoy the largest gains; (3) the combined impact on mental health is positive only for disadvantaged boys. The results suggest that mental health an important mechanism for disadvantaged boys: boosted human capital in the extra year before school leads to better mental health associated with better student achievement. This mechanism based on human capital is also consistent with the finding that the positive effects of higher school entry age are driven by absolute, rather than within-class relative age effects.

[Go to paper]

Work in Progress
Impacts of Universal Daycare on Mothers' Career Paths

I have been a TA for graduate- and undergraduate-level econometric theory and applied econometrics courses, and for undergraduate-level microeconomic theory and applied microeconomics courses.

I was a recipient of the department-level Outstanding Graduate Student TA Award in 2014, and was nominated for the university-level Killam Graduate Student TA Award in 2016.

My Teaching Fields are Labor and Health Economics, Economics of Education, Public Finance, Introduction to Econometrics and Applied Econometrics.

Teaching Assistant Positions:

  • ECON 527 Econometric Methods for Economists, UBC (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
  • ECON 425 Introduction to Econometrics, UBC (2014, 2015)
  • ECON 490/495 Seminar in Applied Economics, UBC (2014, 2015)
  • ECON 351 Women in the Economy, UBC (2014, 2015, 2016)
  • ECON 367 Economic Analysis of Law, UBC (2013)
  • ECON 350 Public Finance, UBC (2012, 2013)
  • ECON 339 The Economics of Technological Change, UBC (2012)
  • ECON 301 Intermediate Microeconomics, UBC (2011
  • STAT 1 and STAT 2 Introduction to Statistics, Corvinus University of Budapest (2008)