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Category Archives: Michelle Connolly

Cashing Out the Benefits: The Spillover Impact of Cash Transfers on Household Educational Investment

By Mitchell Garrett Ochse and Matheus Dias

Using electricity price, generation, installed capacity, and carbon price data from the European Union from January 2015 to December 2018, this study finds that the carbon pricing in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) incentivizes electricity sector carbon emission reductions through renewable energy deployment only for economically advanced EU members. Transitional economies show a weak to modest carbon emission increase despite a common carbon price. This study estimates an electricity supply curve, or merit order, for 24 EU ETS members using a Tobit regression model and analyzes changes in this curve using a linear bspline. These shifts provide insight into how carbon pricing affected energy generation, price, and CO2 emissions for two distinct categories of EU member states. The advanced category as a whole saw a strong electricity sector decrease in carbon emissions, both over time and from carbon pricing, while the transitional category as a whole saw a weak increase. This indicates that advanced EU members in Northern, Western, and Central Europe likely sold permits to transitional ones in Southern and Eastern Europe. While these findings may initially reflect the gains from trade of carbon emissions, permits inherent in the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme’s design, the implications of how these two distinct groups have changed electricity generation present challenges to the ultimate long-term goal of EU-wide carbon neutrality by 2050, particularly in transitional economies’ electricity sectors.

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Advisors: Dr. Xiao Yu Wang, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C93; I21; I24

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

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

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

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

The Effects of Parental Division of Employment on Child Outcomes During Adulthood

By Meredith Parenti 

This paper offers an empirical analysis of the effects of division of employment between parent figures on future outcomes of children. Using propensity score matching, this study extends upon previous research to offer an understanding of the joint role played by maternal employment and that of a present or non-present husband. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Young Adults and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 are used to create and examine a comprehensive set of respondents’ backgrounds and labor outcomes. Relative to children from two parent homes with only working fathers, children from two parent homes with part-time working mothers and non-working fathers appear to have less positive labor outcomes. Conversely, children with full-time working mothers without spouses in the home have more positive labor outcomes. These findings demonstrate the mediation of each parent figure on the role of the other in determining outcomes and suggest maternal work is beneficial to children, or plays no significant role, unless a mother has to support not only her children, but also her husband through her employment.

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Advisors: V. Joseph Hotz and Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: J01, J12, J22

Evaluating The Forward Citations-Patent Value Relationship: The Role Of Competition

By Neelesh T. Moorthy

I assess whether forward citations—how often patents are cited by subsequent patents—reliably capture patent quality. A high-quality invention might lack forward citations if there are no competing, patenting firms. This introduces measurement error in using citations to measure patent value. I test whether greater competition makes forward citations better measures of patent quality, with eight and twelve-year patent renewal rates serving as my benchmark measures of patent quality. Patent data come from the manufacturing survey in Cohen, Nelson, and Walsh (2000). I conduct logit regressions of patent renewal on forward citations and the number of competitors faced by surveyed manufacturing labs. While the regression results do not support the competition hypothesis, they confirm that forward citations positively predict renewal. They also lend insight into firms’ strategic renewal decisions.

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Advisors: Wesley Cohen and Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: O31, O34

Evaluation of the Impact of New Rules in FCC’s Spectrum Incentive Auction

By Elizabeth Lim, Akshaya Trivedi and Frances Mitchell

On March 29, 2016, the FCC initiated its first ever two-sided spectrum auction. The auction closed approximately one year later, having repurposed a total of 84 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum. The “Incentive Auction” included three primary components: (1) a reverse auction where broadcasters bid on the price at which they would voluntarily relinquish their current spectrum usage rights, (2) a forward ascending clock auction for flexible use wireless licenses which determined the winning bids for licenses within a given geographic region, and (3) an assignment phase, where winning bidders from the forward auction participated in single-bid, second price sealed auctions to determine the exact frequencies individual licenses would be assigned within that geographic region. The reverse auction and the forward auction together constituted a “stage.” To guarantee that sufficient MHz were cleared, the auction included a “final stage rule” which, if not met, triggered a clearing of the previous stage and the start of a new stage. This rule led to a total of four stages taking place in the Incentive Auction before the final assignment phase took place. Even at first glance, the Incentive Auction is unique among FCC spectrum auctions. Here we consider the estimated true valuation for these licenses based on market conditions. We further compare these results to more recent outcomes in previous FCC spectrum auctions for wireless services to determine if this novel auction mechanism
impacted auction outcomes.

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Advisor: Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: L5, O3, K2, D44, L96

Are Hollywood Stars Worth the Price Tag?

By TJ Cole and Chris Foote

We investigate the effect of a lead actor’s popularity on the profitability of films. Google search data is used as a proxy for actor popularity. We then investigate if lead actor’s popularity has a different effect on movies that are not part of a sequel or franchise, and those that belong to specific genres. The most profitable movies are franchises and sequels. Movies are more
profitable when they are action movies rated G or PG, although in certain circumstances a small number of horror movies and musicals can be hugely profitable. We find that across all groups
of movies our proxy for lead actor popularity has no significant effect on a film’s profitability.

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Advisor: Dr. Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D2, D22

Questions?

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

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