The Effect of Tourism on Child Health Outcomes in Roatán, Honduras

By Hemal Pragneshbhai Patel

Increased tourism, especially in developing economies, brings with it more economic opportunities and avenues for development. In Roatán, the largest of Honduras’ Caribbean Bay Islands, tourism has brought economic development that the island had never before experienced. However, the impact of this economic development brought by increasing cruise ship tourism on child health has yet to be investigated. The increase in economic development is expected to improve child health through improved absorbed nutrition, and this paper uses an OLS regression model to examine how differential exposure to tourism development during a child’s crucial early life developmental window impacts later life health outcomes, proxied by height-for-age Z-scores.

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Advisors: Professor Dennis Clements, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: I1; I15; Z32

Do Evictions Cause Income Changes? An Instrumental Variables Approach

By Grace Mok

Evictions are an important aspect of the affordable housing crisis facing low-income American renters. However, there has been little research quantifying the causal impact of evictions, which poses challenges for academics interested in understanding inequality and policy-makers interested in reducing it. Merging two datasets both new to the literature, I address this gap in the causal literature by using an instrumental variables strategy to examine the impact of evictions on household income over time in Durham, North Carolina. Exploiting gentrification-related evictions as an instrument, I find a 2.5% decrease in household income after eviction. This is a small, but significant decrease in income given that median household income for households at time of eviction is about $15,000.

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Advisors: Professor Christopher Timmins, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: I32, R29

Is Inclusionary Zoning a Proper Remedy for the Affordable Housing Crisis? —A Case Study of IZ Programs in New Jersey and North Carolina

By Xinchen Li

The recent decade witnessed a worsening of the affordable housing crisis across the
country. Inclusionary zoning (IZ) has been a popular municipal remedy for the crisis.
However, it is unclear whether IZ actually adds to the affordable housing stock, and
whether it achieves its goal at the expense of average homeowners. Through a case
study of New Jersey and North Carolina, this paper aims to address these two questions.The results suggest that there is no statistically significant positive relationship between the presence of IZ and the housing price in the two states, but its beneficiary effects are also debatable.

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Advisors: Professor Christopher Timmins | JEL Codes: D10 ; R2; R21

Overreaction in the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE)

By Yusuke Ewan Tanaka Legard

The Overreaction Hypothesis suggests that investors overreact to unexpected news in the financial world, which leads to a mispricing of equities. This paper investigates the presence of overreaction in the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) between 1995 and 2018. The empirical methodology studies the monthly returns of equities in the FTSE 100. The empirical results are consistent with the overreaction hypothesis and indicate the presence of overreaction within the FTSE. Furthermore, the results highlight whether the information revolution has exacerbated or lessened overreaction. The results suggest that investor overreaction has not altered, for better or worse, since the information revolution.

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Advisors: Professor Emma Rasiel, Professor Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: E7; E70; D83

Social Capital and Financial Development after Economic Shocks: Evidence from Italy after the Financial Crisis of 2007-2009

By Sujay Rao & Ethan Lampert

Like traditional forms of capital, social capital – an intangible measure of an individual’s social networks, trust in institutions, and participation in civic life – has implications for personal and financial behavior. Individuals from educated, well established backgrounds with fruitful family ties may be more amenable to opening new lines of credit or investing in stock markets due to their trust in and connectedness with society. But what happens after a major economic shock, such as the financial crisis of 2008? Using Italy as a case study and panel data from the Survey of Household Income and Wealth, we find that social capital has significant effects on an individual’s credit card usage, informal borrowing, and choice to invest in securities.

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Advisors: Professor Grace Kim, Professor Michelle Connolly, Professor Giovanni Zanalda | JEL Codes: G01, G2, O1, D1, D14

Leverage and Varying Metrics of Firm Performance

By Preston Jiateng Huang

This paper sets out to examine the effect of leverage on company performance. Drawing on the methodology of key prior research, this study finds that leverage has a consistent negative effect on firm growth; by contrast, no such negative impact was found on return on equity. Importantly, such patterns hold throughout the entire period under study (1970-2017), during which several disruptive economic events have occurred. These results highlight the importance of selecting appropriate company performance measures when studying the effect of debt load on a firm as well as the misalignment of incentives for policymakers and company management. Other implications are also discussed.

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Advisor: Professor Kyle Jurado | JEL Codes: G24; G31; G32

The Impact of Microfinance on Women’s Empowerment: Evidence from Rural Areas of Uganda

By Sonia Maria Hernandez

Microfinance is the practice of extending small collateral-free loans to underserved populations in developing areas with no access to credit. The Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) randomized access to microfinance treatment for women in rural areas of Uganda and tracked outcomes through surveys. This research determines the impact of microfinance by analyzing outcomes over five dimensions of women’s empowerment, including decision making power, community participation, business outcomes, emotional wellness, and beliefs about women. The strongest results showed that access to the VSLA program empowered women in terms of business outcomes and decision-making power. This leads to the conclusion that microfinance can more easily impact how a woman behaves within the household than change how a woman behaves within the community.

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Advisors: Professor Kent Kimbrough, Professor Lori Leachman | JEL Codes: O1, O12, O35

Evidence of Stalinist Terror in Modern Adult Height Data

By David Blauser Henderson

Adult height is often used to evaluate standards of living experienced in childhood, as it is highly dependent on early-life nutrition (Komlos and Baten, 1998). I employ adult height data collected by the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) to measure well-being among the population of the USSR during two periods of Stalinist repression: The Great Terror from 1937- 1938, and dekulakization, which led directly to the Great Famine of 1932-1933. Heights are normalized by gender and birth year using data from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe. I find that both the Great Terror and Great Famine had significant negative impacts on health. In particular, I find the impact of famine on adult height was greatest for those of low socioeconomic status and those born in rural areas. The Great Terror, however, primarily impacted the health of those of high socioeconomic status, those born in urban areas, and those born in areas that were heavily targeted by repression campaigns.

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Advisors: Professor Charles Becker, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: N5, N54, I15

ICT Behavior at the Periphery: Exploring the Social Effect of the Digital Divide through Interest in Video Streaming

By Erik W. Hanson and Justin C. LoTurco

We investigate the factors that influence changes in consumer behavior with regard to video streaming. We focus our analysis on the effect of bandwidth impairment to explore a potential consequence of the digital divide. To measure the change in relative popularity of video streaming services, we use Google Trends data as a proxy. We then investigate whether broadband speed improvements in rural vs. urban regions affect the proxy differently. We find that increasing the broadband speeds in rural regions appears to stimulate greater interest in video streaming than equivalent speed increases in urban regions.

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Advisors: Professor Michelle Connolly, Professor Grace Kim | JEL Codes: C33; J11; L96

The Impact of Originality in a Transitioning Movie Industry

By Jacob Graber-Lipperman

The thesis explores the increasing success of non-original films distributed through traditional theatrical releases, and asks whether new distributors, such as Netflix, may serve as better platforms for original content. A dataset incorporating the top 100 highest-grossing films at the domestic box office each year from 2000 to 2018, as well as a smaller subset including 82 titles distributed by Netlix, was utilized to investigate these issues. The results confirm non-original content has performed increasingly well over time for theatrical releases, especially within the past four years, while original content has performed poorly, especially during this recent time period. Additionally, the research suggests the stark difference in performance observed for non-original and original content in traditional distribution models may not appear for titles released through the newer streaming platforms. This paper thus hopes to motivate future study into the effect of streaming platforms on consumer purchasing behavior of films as new distribution technology within the movie industry continues to proliferate.

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Advisor: Professor Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: D1, D10, D19

Questions?

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

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