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Category Archives: D

Pricing and Pack Size Brand, Quantity, and Cost Considerations in Pricing Multipacks of Toothpaste

By Stephanie Wiehe

The US market for toothpaste, like many other goods, is shifting towards selling
in bulk. Multipacks of toothpaste require quantity discounts to incentivize consumers, making buying in bulk a great deal for the savings-minded toothpaste-shopper. It is more difficult to understand, however, producers’ willingness to sell multipacks of toothpaste, when margins are necessarily slimmer than single tubes due to quantity discounts. This paper explores the consumer’s decision in purchasing toothpaste as an interaction between savings on price and inventory considerations, like shopping and carrying costs. My model combines aspects of prior works on second degree price discrimination and quantity discounts with alterations to fit the intricacies of the market for toothpaste. The model’s predictions support the possibility of pack size as a tool for second degree price discrimination as shopping and carrying costs  constitute two markets with different price elasticities of demand for single and multipacks of toothpaste. This work adds to the existing literature on storable goods and non-linear pricing and brings a new economics-based approach to a question faced by toothpaste producers.

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Advisors: Professor Allan Collard-Wexler, | JEL Codes: L11; L42; D4

The Effect of Marriage on the Wages of Americans: Gender and Generational Differences

By William Song and Theresa Tong

A substantial body of literature on the wage effects of marriage finds that married American men earn anywhere from 10% to 40% higher wages than unmarried men on average, while married American women earn up to 7% less than unmarried women, even after controlling for traits such as background, education, and number of children. Because this literature focuses heavily on men born in a single time period, we study both men and women in two different generational cohorts of Americans (Baby Boomers and Millennials) from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth to examine how the wage effects of marriage differ between genders and across time. Using a fixed effects approach, we find that Millennial women—but not Baby Boomer women—experience an increase in wages after marriage, and we replicate the finding from the literature that men experience an increase in wages after marriage as well. However, after controlling for wage trajectory-based selection into marriage by using a modified fixed effects approach that allows wage trajectories to vary by individual, we find that the wage effects of marriage are no longer statistically significant for any group in our data, suggesting that the wage differences between married and unmarried individuals found in previous studies are primarily a result of selection.

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Advisors: Professor Marjorie McElroy, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: C33; D13; J12; J13; J22; J30

Asylum Determination within the European Union (EU): Whether Capacity and Social Constraints Impact the Likelihood of Refugee Status Determination

By Louden Paul Richason

This paper analyzes whether capacity and social constraints impact acceptance rates for asylum seekers in the European Union from 2000-2016. Theoretically people should receive asylum based on the criteria outlined in international law – a well founded fear of persecution – but the influx and distribution of applicants in the European Union suggests that this may not hold in practice. For a group of pre identified “legitimate” asylum cases, this paper finds that surges in applications in a country (i.e. capacity constraints) have a positive and statistically significant correlation with acceptance rates, while the percentage of migrants in a country (i.e.  social constraints) has a negative and statistically significant correlation with acceptance rates. This suggests that the burden of proof becomes easier during a surge in total applications in a country. However, as the international migrant stock in that country increases, it is more difficult for that same group of applicants to receive asylum.

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Advisors: Professor Suzanne Shanahan, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D73, D78, F22, H12, J11, J15, K37, O52

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

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

Does Media Coverage of Sexual Assault Cases Cause Victims to Go to the Police? Evidence from FBI Data and Google Trends

By Harry Elworthy

This paper investigates the effect that national news coverage of prominent sexual assaults has on the reporting decisions of sexual assault victims. Estimates are based on time series data of reports made to police stations in the US from 2008 to 2016 and Google Trends data of search volume, along with an identification strategy that uses a number of individual high profile sexual assault allegations and related events as instruments. By removing assaults that occurred on the day that they were reported, I estimate the effect of coverage only on the reporting of assaults, and not on assaults themselves. A significant positive effect of news coverage on sexual assault reporting is found using several specifications. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that there were between 31 and 121 additional reports of sexual assault for each of the 38 high profile events captured. No evidence is found to suggest that these additional reports of sexual assault have different arrest rates to other reports, indicating that there are not a significant number of false reports. This paper adds to current literature on the sexual assault reporting decision by considering the effect of news coverage and by using different methods of inference to previous papers.

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Advisor: Professor Patrick Bayer | JEL Codes: D91, J16, K42, L86, Z13

Investigating a Case of Alleged Collusion in Michigan Public Oil and Gas Lease Auctions

By Lucas Do

The state of Michigan administers oil and gas lease auctions semiannually through the Department of Natural Resources. In June 2012, the international news outlet Reuters published allegations of bid-rigging following the Department’s May 2010 auction. This paper empirically investigates the validity of Reuters’ allegations by analyzing auction bid sheets from 2008 to 2018 as well as other data reflecting market conditions over time. To this end, I first formulate a benchmark structural model of bidders’ valuations and estimate it with auction data from a period during which I assume no collusion occurred. Then, I extend the benchmark model by endogenizing bidders’ decision to collude. Using the extended model and the estimated benchmark parameters, I apply the simulated method of moments to solve for the collusive probability that “best” explains the observed bids during the alleged period of collusion. After discovering strong evidence for bid-rigging, I run counterfactual simulations to estimate the revenue damage caused to the state of Michigan by this non-competitive bidding behavior. I find that the hypothetical revenue damage, summed over the entire alleged collusive period, totals over $450 million. However, although these findings lend support to Reuters’ allegations and are contrary to the Department of Justice’s conclusion in 2014 after they had probed the case, they should be approached only with caution, given the limitations of the available data on the potential bidders.

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Advisors: Professor Jame Roberts, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: L4, D44, L71

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

Questions?

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

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