Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

James K. Boyce

Second Advisor

Nancy Folbre

Third Advisor

Eve Weinbaum

Subject Categories



Children are conceptualized many ways by economists-- as sources of utility for their parents, investments, recipients of care, and public goods. Despite the understanding that children are also people, the economic literature is lacking in analysis of children as actors, making choices with consequences for economic development. Using a capability-driven approach and an emphasis on co-evolutionary processes of institutional and individual change, with mixed qualitative and quantitative methods, my dissertation analyzes the role of children in long-term economic development at the community level. I use a case study of community-based, out-of-school time (OST) programs for low-income youth funded through the 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) to analyze the role of youth in economic development. OST programs provide community-level benefits such as reductions in juvenile crime and foster economic development by creating linkages between the state, the market, the community, and the family. My study contributes to the body of interdisciplinary research on OST programs, and is situated in the middle ground between case studies with very small samples and quantitative studies with a narrow focus on academic performance as measured by grades. The 21st CCLC programs in New York State are unique in their emphasis on partnerships between schools and community-based organizations. An analysis of the costs and benefits of OST programs shows that the benefits of programs such as 21st CCLC substantially outweigh the costs. Using Geographic Information Systems and statistical analysis, I examine the relationship between eligibility for 21st CCLC funding, demographic characteristics related to the need for free or low-cost OST programs, and the presence of 21st CCLC programs, and find that the presence of these programs cannot be explained solely through the characteristics of people who will be served by them. Additionally, it is clear that there are not enough 21st CCLC programs to serve all eligible communities, raising questions about the scale of funding as well as its distribution.


Included in

Economics Commons