Deciphering Chinese Financing To African Countries

By Gwen Geng

The paper considers what attracts Chinese aid and Chinese investment to African countries and what kinds of Chinese financing projects are more likely to have unrevealed financing amount. The main database used is AidData: China’s Official Finance to Africa 2000-2012. It contains 2356 Chinese financing projects to 50 African countries. The results suggest that Chinese aid supports less developed economies, while Chinese investment favors countries with resource abundance and political conditions conducive to profit-making. The findings show that projects with unrevealed funding amounts tend to fall under investment and the government sector among other categories, raising questions on financing secrecy.

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Advisors: Robert Garlick and Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: F13, F54, N47, N57, O24, R11, R15

Sister competition and birth order effects among marriage-aged girls: Evidence from a field experiment in rural Bangladesh

By Stephanie Zhong

Early marriage before the age of 18 is prevalent among adolescent girls in Bangladesh, but the timing of marriage is not uniform across daughters within a household, with some sisters marrying earlier than others. Using survey data from a novel field experiment from rural Bangladesh, I find that girls ages 10-21 with lower birth order tend to be married at a younger age, even when controlling for confounding nature of household size on birth order. Additionally, girls with younger sisters are more likely to be married and at a younger age than girls with younger brothers. The findings on dowry are inclusive.

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Advisors: Dr. Erica Field and Dr. Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D13, J13, O15

Prediction in Economics: a Case Study of Economists’ Views on the 2008 Financial Crisis

By Weiran Zeng

Prediction in economics is the focal point of debate for the future of economics, ever since economists were burdened with the failure to “predict” the 2008 Financial Crisis. This paper discusses positions held by philosophers and economic methodologists regarding what kinds of predictions there are and creates a taxonomy of prediction. Through evaluation of those positions, this paper presents different senses of prediction that can be expected of economics, and assess economists’ reflections according to those senses.

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Advisor: Kevin Hoover | JEL Codes: B41, N1, G17

The Impact of Access to Public Transportation on Residential Property Value: A Comparative Analysis of American Cities

By Moses Snow Wayne

This paper develops a consistent model for analyzing the impact of access to public transportation on property value applied to the four cities of Atlanta, Boston, New York, and San Francisco. This study finds a negative relationship between increasing distance to public transit and property value. Additionally, the elicited effects in each city generally align with geographic features and the degree to which a city is monocentric. This study also demonstrates the salience of using actual map-generated distances as proximity measures and characteristics of public
transit systems in modeling the relationship between public transportation and residential property value.

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Advisors: Dr. Patrick Bayer and Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: C12, R14, R30, R41

Incentives to Quit in Men’s Professional Tennis: An Empirical Test of Tournament Theory

By Will Walker

This paper studies the influence of incentives on quitting behaviors in professional men’s tennis tournaments and offers broader implications to pay structures in the labor market. Precedent literature established that prize incentives and skill heterogeneity can impact player effort exertion. Prize incentives include prize money and indirect financial rewards (ranking points). Players may also exert less effort when there is a significant difference in skill between the match favorite and the match underdog. Results warrant three important conclusions. First, prize incentives (particularly prize money) do influence a player’s likelihood of quitting. Results on skill heterogeneity are less conclusive, though being the “match favorite” could reduce the odds of quitting. Finally, match underdogs and “unseeded” players may be especially susceptible to the influence of prize incentives when considering whether to quit.

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Advisors: Peter Arcidiacono and Grace Kim | JEL Codes: J41, J31, J32, J33, M12, M51, M52

Assessing the Impacts of an Aging Population on Rising Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Expenditures within the United States

By Rahul Sharma 

This paper studies the impact of aging on rising healthcare and pharmaceutical expenditures in the United States with the goal of contextualizing the future burden of public health insurance on the government. Precedent literature has focused on international panels of multiple countries and hasn’t identified significant correlation between age and healthcare expenditures. This paper presents a novel approach of identifying this correlation by using a US sample population to determine if age impacts an individual’s consumption of healthcare services and goods. Results suggest that age has a significant impact on healthcare and pharmaceutical expenditures across private and public insurance.

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Advisors: Gilliam D. Saunders-Schmidler and Grace Kim | JEL Codes: H51, H53, I12, I13, I18, I38

Analyzing Student and Family-Level Effects on a Family’s Contributions to Fund a College Education

By Justin T. Rosenblum and John H. Zipf

We investigate the efficiency of the current financial aid system for prospective college students. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form reviews a family’s financial information and universities review a student’s academic prowess, but neither fully examines students and their family’s qualitative factors such as parents’ highest education level or intended major. Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, we investigate academic, financial, and familial characteristics to determine if they impact a student’s level of private loans relative to their total cost of attendance. We find that students with parents who did not receive a college degree are adversely affected by the current financial aid system. In particular, these students take out a greater amount of private loans relative to their total cost of attendance all else equal. Our finding has wider policy implications; changing the current financial aid system to assist disadvantaged students could help reduce intergenerational education inequalities. In addition, colleges could reach a broader range of students by helping
the students that currently struggle the most to pay tuition.

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Advisors: Michelle Connolly, Hugh Macartney and Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: I2, I22, I23

Evaluating Asset Bubbles within Cryptocurrencies using the LPPL Model

By Rafal Rokosz

The advent of blockchain technology has created a new asset class named cryptocurrencies that have experienced tremendous price appreciation leading to speculation that the asset class is experiencing an asset bubble. This paper examines the novelty and functionality of cryptocurrencies and potential factors that may lead to conclude the existence of an asset bubble. To empirically evaluate whether the asset class is experiencing an asset bubble the LPPL model is used. The LPPL model was able to successfully identify two of the four crashes within the data set signifying that cryptocurrencies are within an asset bubble.

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Advisors: Ed Tiryakian and Grace Kim | JEL Codes: G12, Z00, C60

Endogeneity in the Decision to Migrate: Changes in the Self-Selection of Puerto Rican Migrants before, during, and after the Great Recession

By Aasha Reddy 

Migrants self-select on characteristics such as income. We use the U.S. Census’ ACS and PRCS to study changes in selection patterns of Puerto Rican migrants to the to the U.S. mainland (50 states) before, during, and after the Great Recession (2005 to 2016). We construct counterfactual income densities to compare incomes of Puerto Rican migrants to the mainland versus incomes of island residents under equivalent returns to skill. We examine where Puerto Rican migrants to the mainland tend to fall in the island’s income distribution and find that Puerto Rican migrants tend to come from the top 20% of the island’s income distribution. This pattern remained stable with little to no effect of the Great Recession on selectivity patterns.

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Advisors: William Darity and Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: J15, J61, O15

Effect of Sentiment on Bitcoin Price Formation

By Brian Perry-Carrera

With the recent growth in the investment of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, it has become increasingly relevant to understand what drives price formation. Given that investment in bitcoin is greatly determined by speculation, this paper seeks to find the econometric relationship between public sentiment and the price of bitcoin. After scraping over 500,000 tweets related to bitcoin, sentiment analysis was performed for each tweet and then aggregated for each day between December 1st, 2017 and December 31st, 2017. This study found that both gold futures and market volatility are negatively related to the price of bitcoin, while sentiment demonstrates a positive relationship.

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Advisor: Grace Kim | JEL Codes: G12, G41, Z00

Questions?

Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker
dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly
michelle.connolly@duke.edu