Award Year


Award Type

Honorable Mention

Dissertation Advisor

Cristian (Kiki) Pop-Eleches


This dissertation studies marginalized populations in the United States and Western countries, with a broad focus on how legal and social institutions affect individual economic outcomes and wellbeing. The first chapter examines the impacts of incarceration on criminal defendants in Houston, Texas, documenting patterns of worsening criminality, diminished earnings and social detachment after exposure to the prison system. The second chapter develops a framework to consider the interplay between discrimination and concealment of minority status in the context of sexual orientation and shows empirical evidence from the United States on the large magnitudes of concealment costs. The third chapter considers the role of legal recognition of unions in shaping the labor market activity and childbearing decisions of same-sex couples in Sweden, implicitly providing insight into some of the constraints imposed on same-sex couples by widespread exclusion from the institution of marriage throughout the world. Together these essays highlight how public institutions and social systems influence lifecycle outcomes in the population, particularly among minority and other vulnerable groups.

Link to dissertation full text