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How Expensive Is This Suit? An Analysis of Corporate Litigation Settlements and Brand Value

By Jenny Y. Zhang

Two recent corporate trends include a rise in litigation and companies’ increased emphasis on branding. This paper examines whether there is a relationship between the two phenomena by analyzing corporate litigation outcomes and brand value. Specifically, I examine law suits resulting in a settlement in order to determine whether a company’s brand value impacts the settlement amount. I do not find evidence of a relationship between a company’s brand value and the settlement value. Further research is needed in order to more conclusively determine whether a company’s brand value and the resulting settlement are related.

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Advisors: Professor James Roberts, Professor Michelle Connolly, Professor Grace Kim | JEL Codes: K40, K41

For Love of the Game: A Study of Tournament Theory and Intrinsic Motivation in Dota 2

By YAO Shengjie

This paper studies the effect of intrinsic motivation on the extrinsic incentives specified by tournament structure in tournament theory in the context of e-sports. It incorporates tournament theory and motivation crowding theory in the same framework, something that past literature have hinted towards but never formally done so. It also uses an e-sports dataset, a type of dataset that few academics in the past have dealt with, but one that offers many interesting potentials. Results weakly show that crowding-in occurs in e-sports, but the effects of tournament structure on performance are inconclusive in the context of this paper. Implications of this paper lie mainly in the possibility for future academics to utilise e-sports data for research.

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Advisors: Professor Grace Kim | JEL Codes: J31, J33, J41, M51, M52, Z20

Immigrant Workers in a Changing Labor Environment: A study on how technology is reshaping immigrant earnings

By Grace Peterson

This research determines how automation affects immigrant wages in the US and how closely this impact follows the skills-biased technical change (SBTC) hypothesis. The present study addresses this question using American Community Survey (ACS) data from 2012 to 2016 and a job automation probability index to explain technological change. This research leverages OLS regressions to evaluate real wage drivers, grouping data by year, immigration status, and education level. According to the SBTC hypothesis, high skill immigrant wages should be less negatively affected by technological change than low skill immigrant wages. Univariate analysis suggests that the SBTC hypothesis is even stronger for US = immigrants than native-borns, as high skill immigrants have a lower average probability than low skill immigrants of having their jobs automated, and the difference in effect on high versus low skilled workers is larger for immigrant than native-borns. However, multivariate analysis asserts that technological change affects low skill immigrants’ wages less than high skilled individuals’ wages, which counters the SBTC hypothesis.

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Advisors: Professor Grace Kim | JEL Codes: J15, J24, J31, J61, E24

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

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

Durham and Gentrification: Assessing the Impact of Displacement in the Bull City

By Armin Hakimzadeh Ameri

In this paper, I look to Durham, North Carolina, to demonstrate potential harms from gentrification. Using an expansive proprietary dataset, I come to two main conclusions: first, there is a significant link between gentrification and displacement, as low-income renters are constrained by increased prices and are forced to leave their neighborhoods. Second, displaced renters are significantly more likely to move into communities with higher crime rates, worse schools, and increased rates of poverty. These results suggest that the Durham government should enact policies protecting low-income renters and other at-risk groups while also balancing the benefits of gentrification.

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Advisors: Dr. Christopher Timmins, and Dr. Grace Kim | JEL Codes: R2, R3

Family Leave and Child Care Policy Across States: Implications for Labor Force Participation Over Time

By Kelly Albert

This paper investigates the impact of child care subsidies, maternity and paternity leave policy, and Earned Income Tax Credits on labor force participation rates at the state level, utilizing data sets from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Current Population Survey. Results suggest labor force participation increased with federal maternity and paternity leave, increased child care subsidy expenditures, and Earned Income Tax Credits. Head Start expenditures, state maternity leave, and Temporary Disability Insurance have negative impacts. These findings have wider policy implications; altering combinations of family leave and child care policy could help improve employment outcomes of parents.

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Advisors: Dr. Hugh Macartney, and Dr. Grace Kim | JEL Codes: J13, J18, J22

Evaluating Economic Impacts of Electrification in Zambia

By Aashna Aggarwal

Energy poverty is prevalent in Zambia. It is one of the world’s least electrified nations with 69% of its citizens living in darkness, without access to grid electricity. Zambian government has a goal to achieve universal electricity access in urban areas and increase rural electrification to 51% by 2030. With its main goal to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of Zambians. Electrification is expected to have positive impacts on health, education and employment play an important role to achieve wellbeing, however, previous studies and analysis of renewable energy programs have found different, context-dependent results. To evaluate the impacts of electrification in Zambia I have used the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey (LCMS) of 2015 and applied two different estimation techniques: non-linear regressions and propensity score matching. My study finds that firewood consumption significantly decreases with assess to electricity and education has positive outcomes on grade attainment. I negligible effects on wage earning employment outcomes respiratory health outcomes. Based on these results I conclude that access to grid electrification does have certain positive impacts but empirical evidence is not as strong as the theoretical claims.

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Advisors: Dr. Robyn Meeks and Dr. Grace Kim | JEL Codes: C31; C78; O13; Q40

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

Questions?

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

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