Award Year

2013

Award Type

Honorable Mention

Dissertation Advisor

Mark Duggan and Alexander Gelber

Abstract

Chapter 1: I examine how the shock to a firm's workforce caused by the death of a worker from accidental causes affects firm revenue and costs, by linking employer-employee data on the majority of U.S. firms and workers to data on individuals' causes of death. Under certain conditions, I can use this variation to estimate the marginal product of labor and compare it to workers' pay. I find that workers are paid below their marginal product on average, which is at odds with a simple neoclassical model of pay determination but is consistent with a variety of alternative models that introduce frictions such as search or moving costs. Chapter 2: Numerous theories posit that the fiscal decisions of one jurisdiction influence the fiscal decisions of its neighbors. The main contribution of this paper is to address empirical difficulties in testing for spillovers using a regression discontinuity design on a newly collected dataset. I utilize close elections from this large dataset of local referenda in Ohio to isolate the effect of exogenous increases in taxation and spending of one jurisdiction on neighbors' fiscal decisions. For all jurisdictional types and referenda revenue sources (bonds, income, property, and sales tax), there is no evidence of spillovers, and moderate effects can be ruled out. Chapter 3: Parents may have important effects on their children, but little work in economics explores whether children's schooling opportunities crowd out or encourage parents' investment in children. We analyze data from the Head Start Impact Study, which granted randomly-chosen preschool-aged children the opportunity to attend Head Start. We find that Head Start causes a substantial increase in parents' involvement with their children—such as time spent reading to children, math activities, or days spent with children by fathers who do not live with their children—both during and after the period when their children are potentially enrolled in Head Start.

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