By Tommaso Carlo Filippo Babucci
Although still prohibited at the federal level, cannabis can now be found on the shelves of recreational dispensaries across thirty-three U.S states. This thesis examines the development of this legal market from both historical and empirical perspectives. Using a new data set, it estimates the determinants of cannabis sales and tax revenues in the Colorado market and analyzes the incidence of a single tax increase. The results, which suggest that legal cannabis behaves like a luxury good, are used to analyze the potential for cannabis-funded reparations programs in Illinois, which recently approved recreational sales of cannabis.
Advisors: Professor Connel Fullenkamp | JEL Codes: H2, R50, L15
By Ralph Lawton
Natural disasters can have catastrophic personal and economic effects, particularly in low-resource settings. Major natural disasters are becoming more frequent, so rigorous understanding of their effects on long-term economic wellbeing is fundamentally important in order to mitigate their impacts on exposed populations. In this paper, I investigate the effects of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami on real consumption and assets at the individual level. I also examine the heterogeneity of those impacts, and the related effects on inequality. Taking individual-specific heterogeneity into account with fixed effects, I find individuals living in heavily damaged areas experience major declines in real consumption and assets, and do not recover in the long term. These results are strikingly different than results that do not consider price effects, as well as previously published macroeconomic results. I also find significant heterogeneity by age, education-level, pre-tsunami socioeconomic status, and whether an individual went into a refugee camp. The tsunami resulted in large, long-term declines in asset inequality, and a temporary increase in consumption inequality that returns to near pre-tsunami levels in the long run.
Advisors: Professor Duncan Thomas, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D1, D15, H84
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.
Advisors: Professor Suzanne Shanahan, Professor Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: D73, D78, F22, H12, J11, J15, K37, O52
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.
Advisors: Gilliam D. Saunders-Schmidler and Grace Kim | JEL Codes: H51, H53, I12, I13, I18, I38
Benefit Spillovers and Higher Education Financing: An Empirical Analysis of Brain Drain and State-Level Investment in Public Universities
By Chinmany G. Pandit
This paper analyzes the impact of out-migration of college graduates on state higher education investment. A three-stage least squares regression model with state and year fixed effects is developed and estimated, addressing the relationship between state legislative appropriations, tuition, and educated out-migration across 49 U.S. states from 2006-2015. The results support the notion that states respond negatively to benefit spillovers in higher education: for every one percent increase in the rate of educated out-migration, state appropriations decrease by 1.92 percent (roughly $140 per student). These findings suggest that an education subsidy
provided to states may be necessary to prevent underinvestment in higher education.
Advisor: Thomas Nechyba | JEL Codes: H7, H75, I22, I28, R23
By Ryan B. Hoecker
This paper analyzes the municipal fringe of cities in Eastern North Carolina between 2006-2016, and how the values of individual properties on the outskirts can fluctuate after they are
incorporated within a city. A large portion of the research process consisted of manually recreating annexation ordinances from scanned photocopies on ArcGIS, creating the first geographic archive of annexations in North Carolina compatible with digital software. As environmental nuisances, such as landfills and hazardous waste sites, are often located on town borders, this study pays specific attention to how their presence affects the change in property values before and after annexation. Results show that incorporation brings with it higher property values, and that the impact of annexation is greater in the presence of nuisances that threaten water quality for private wells.
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Advisor: Christopher Timmins | JEL Codes: H79, Q53, R31
By Sofia Becerra
Tax evasion throughout the world is widely endured, but not widely understood. The decision making process of the taxpayer may include many concerns outside of the monetary payoffs. The tax compliance decision considers social norms and social sanctions in addition to deterrence levels. The goal of this paper is to illuminate some of the social norms and factors that affect tax morale, since tax morale in turn drives part of compliance. An empirical study comparing tax morale in 18 Latin American countries finds that, social factors like perception of evasion by peers, as well as government trust and approval, are significant determinants of tax morale. Moreover, culture also plays a role. However, its role is not nearly as large as believed, and cannot be explained much of the variance across countries. Compliance is partly explained by tax moral, which is partly explained by culture. Tax morale will drive higher compliance all else equal, but compliance is also a function of deterrence, and both factors work in a feedback loop. Social norms and culture develop through assimilation of deterrence mechanism over time and so, culture need not be deterministic since it mutable.
Advisor: Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: H2, H26, H31 | Tagged:
By Michael Ge
The effect of congressional electoral politics on pork barrel spending is a well -studied phenomenon.
Likewise, presidential politics are receiving increased scrutiny. This paper aims to expand the
literature relating presidential electoral politics and the geographic distribution of federal funds on a
county level. It asks whether there is increased spending in the electorally-important counties in the
electorally-important states during and after a presidential elections. Results show that there are in
fact links between electoral importance and federal funding levels. However, results do not show a
trend in those results over different elections.
Advisor: Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: A12, D72, E62, H50, H61 | Tagged:
Neighborhood Effects and School Performance: The Impact of Public Housing Demolitions on Children in North Carolina
By Rebecca Aqostino
This study explores how the demolitions of particularly distressed public housing units, through the Home Ownership for People Everywhere (HOPE VI) grants program, have affected academic outcomes for children in adjacent neighborhoods in Durham and Wilmington, North Carolina. I measure neighborhood-level changes and individual effects through regression analysis. All students in demolition communities are compared to those in control communities: census blocks in the same cities with public housing units that were not demolished. Those in the Durham experiment community experienced statistically significant gains when compared to those in the control communities; the effect is insignificant in Wilmington.
Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: C23, H41, H52, H75, I24, I25 | Tagged: