This dissertation contains three essays that address the use of techniques in applied microeconomics in solving scientific puzzles and questions closely related to practical policy issues.
The first essay explores the impact of early access to the birth-control pill on the future crime rates of the children who are born to mothers who take advantage of this improvement in contraceptive technology. The application of techniques in applied microeconomics shows that increased flexibility in avoiding unwanted pregnancies reduces crime two decades into the future, i.e., when cohorts born in more liberal contraceptive regimes reach their criminal prime. This essay suggests that it seems possible to extend the abortion-crime arguments to policies other than abortion legalization, as long as these other policies (i.e., family planning and contraception) also effectively reduce the level of unwanted pregnancies. The second essay examines whether changing parenting disciplinary strategies with later-born siblings (more liberal use of discipline) generate different birth-order effects in school performance. The study found a clear association between school performance as perceived by the mothers and birth order. Although 33 percent of first-born children were considered by their mothers as "one of the best in the class," only 25 percent of those fourth in the birth order had such recognition by the mother. These maternal perceptions correlated with birth-order differences in the strictness of parental practices regarding TV watching, homework monitoring, and loss of privileges because of low grades. The third essay develops and estimates a dynamic model of human capital accumulation and criminal behavior. The estimated model is used to assess alternative criminal-records policies and to clarify the causal relationship between education and crime. Tables, figures, mathematical formulas, and essay bibliographies