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Female Labor Force Participation in Turkic Countries: A Study of Azerbaijan and Turkey

By Natasha Jo Torrens

Encouraging female labor force participation (FLFP) should be a goal of any country attempting to increase their productive capacity. Understanding the determinants and motivations of labor force participation requires isolating the factors that influence a woman’s decision to enter or leave formal employment. In this thesis, I utilize data from the Demographics and Health Surveys to explain the role of social conservatism in promoting or limiting participation in the labor force. I focus on ever-married women in Azerbaijan and Turkey to provide a lens through which to explain the unexpectedly low FLFP of Turkey. Though most prior research attempts to explain Turkey’s low FLFP rate by comparisons to other OECD countries, my study looks at Turkey through the context of other Turkic cultures to explore cultural factors driving labor force participation for ever-married women. This study finds a negative correlation between conservatism and the likelihood of participating in the labor force for ever married women in Azerbaijan, and a larger, positive relationship in Turkey.

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Advisors: Professor Charles Becker, Professor Didem Havlioğlu, Professor Kent Kimrbough | JEL Codes: C50, J16, N95

The Effect of Early Life Economic Conditions on Child Health in Post-Soviet Russia

By Hemal Pragneshbhai Patel

The effect of the economic collapse on health has been extensively documented in Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The proportion of stunted children in Russia increased substantially in this period, but no study has investigated the mechanisms by which this economic collapse impacted child health outcomes. This paper uses an OLS regression followed by a Binder-Oaxaca decomposition to determine the specific economic factors that significantly contributed to this decrease in child heights.

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Advisors: Professor Charles Becker | JEL Codes: I1; I14; J13

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

The Impact of Violence in Mexico on Education and Labor Outcomes: Do Conditional Cash Transfers Have a Mitigating Effect?

By Hayley Jordan Barton

This research explores the potential mitigating effect of Mexico’s conditional cash transfer program, Oportunidades, on the education and labor impacts of increased homicide rates. Panel data models are combined with a difference-in-differences approach to compare children and young adults who receive cash transfers with those who do not. Results are very sensitive to specification, but Oportunidades participation is shown to be positively associated with educational attainment regardless of homicide increases. Homicides are associated with decreases in likelihood of school enrollment and compulsory education completion; however, they also correspond with increases in educational attainment, with a larger effect for Oportunidades non-recipients.

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Advisors: Dr. Charles Becker, and Dr. Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C23; D15; I20; I38; J24

Entrepreneurial Attractiveness: Amazon, Google, and the Search for Innovative Hot Spots

By Anna Katherine Kropf

Recent economic literature suggests that entrepreneurship in technological fields can spur economic growth, making it a popular topic for city development officials. Yet, this increasingly popular phenomenon is met by many economic questions. One of those questions is which characteristics of metropolitan areas are attractive to entrepreneurs. To answer the question of attractiveness on both the small business and corporate levels, I compare across two case studies: Amazon’s search for a second headquarters and Google’s tech hub network. Using principal component analysis, I statistically deduce seven components of attractiveness from an original 34 variables. These components are then weighted using three methods—a case study, a survey, and an empirical method—to produce comparable indices of attractiveness. Generally, I find that sizeable population and healthy economy are the strongest components. However, the statistically insignificant components that can change an urban area’s ranking considerably are talent and geographic network effects. Ultimately, creating policy to maximize these aspects can change a city’s innovative
trajectory.

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Advisor: Dr. Charles Becker | JEL Codes: O, O3, R, R1, R11

Japan’s Furusato Nouzei (Hometown Tax): Which Areas Get How Much, and Is It Really Working?

By Kay Hasegawa

In 2015, 7,260,093 individuals donated a total of ¥165,291,021,000 (approximately 1.5 billion USD total) to 1,741 municipalities in Japan using the furusato nouzei system (Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications). In this paper, I examine this system in two ways. Firstly, I predict the amount of donations each municipality receives based on a number of explanatory variables. Secondly, I run a 2SLS difference-in-differences regression to see if the tax was successfully redistributing wealth from city centers to rural areas, using an increase in municipal-level expenditure as a proxy.

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Advisor: Charles Becker JEL Codes: H2, H21, H27

The Neighborhood Effect on Health Outcomes for Women in Urban India

By Priyanka Venkannagari

The paper uses 2011 Indian Human Development Survey data to assess the impact of 5 categories of variables on health outcomes. It uses OLS models, interaction terms, instrumental variable models, fixed effects and random effects to investigate the existence of a neighborhood effect on health outcomes for women in urban India. This paper finds that various aspects of health practices, empowerment, amenities and financial security are relevant when looking at health outcomes. Interventions looking to address health outcomes should consider these variables and the compounding neighborhood effect.

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Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: C36, I1, I12, O18

Hedonic Modeling of Singapore’s Resale Public Housing Market

By Jiakun Xu

The large-scale, high-density public housing market in Singapore invites hedonic analysis, due to its homogeneity in structure quality across all neighborhoods. This paper builds a time-dummy hedonic regression model incorporating geospatial features for a large dataset of resale transactions from 2000 to 2016. Significant anticipatory price effects are found for new subway stations, which peak at two years before station opening. A hedonic price index suggests that affordability was a problem during the sustained period of property price inflation from 2011 to 2013. District-level analysis shows evidence of increasing rent gradients, wealth disparities, and “lottery” effects in asset growth. I discuss the potential contributions of these insights to wealth and equity considerations in public policy
design.

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Data available upon request. Email dus_asst@econ.duke.edu

Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: C21, R3, R31, R38, R41

Determinants of SAT Scores in North Carolina

By Abby Snyder

This paper examines the effects of different school and district characteristics on SAT scores across North Carolina from 2007 to 2014. Such characteristics include demographics, poverty and wealth indicators, measures of classroom environment, and achievement levels. A pooled time series panel across districts and schools with fixed effects is used to determine the strength of influence these variables have on scores. Ultimately, this paper identifies which characteristics lead to over or underperformance relative to predicted values; further, it considers the implications of the SAT being more of an “achievement” test versus an “aptitude” test.

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Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: I2, I24 | Tagged: Achievement Gap, Aptitude Test, Education, SAT

The Professor and the Coal Miner: The effect of socioeconomic and geographical factors on breast cancer diagnosis and survival outcome

By Shelley Chen

Previous studies reported that patients who live farther from cancer centers do not necessarily experience delayed cancer detection and shortened survival. However, the results are biased because of the incomplete observation of patient survival, which cannot be properly accounted for with the multivariable regression model. In this thesis, I isolated the effect of the breast cancer patient’s distance to a comprehensive cancer center on the stage of diagnosis and survival using the Cox Proportional Hazards model. I linked data from the Kentucky Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results 18, the Kentucky Life Tables, and the Kentucky Area Health Resource Files and identified 37654 patients diagnosed with breast cancer. I estimated the effect of distance on marginal probability of cancer mortality, controlling for non-cancer related death, socioeconomic status, and demographic factors in patients. After controlling for covariates, travel distance between the patient and the nearest comprehensive cancer center was statistically significantly on the breast cancer mortality probability, but not on the stage of diagnosis. In the Kentucky population, patients who were located farther from comprehensive cancer centers experience an increased marginal probability of mortality (proportional hazard = 1.004; 95% CI: 1). The linkage of SEER 18 and AHRF data provided more comprehensive information on the socioeconomic risk factors of cancer mortality than past study datasets. For the stage of diagnosis, a low physician to population ratio and high county-level Medicaid coverage were associated with more advanced stages of diagnosis. In turn, a more advanced stage of diagnosis, lower physician to population ratio, and identification as African American increased the marginal probabilities of mortality.

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Advisor: Charles Becker, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: I1, I13, I14 | Tagged: Breast Cancer, Cancer Mortality, Health Outcomes, Inequality, Socioeconomic, Stage

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Questions?

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

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