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Category Archives: J24

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

The Impact of Collegiate Athletic Success and Scandals on Admissions Applications

By William J. Battle-McDonald

This paper examines how the quantity and quality of admissions applications to Division 1 colleges and universities were affected by two non-academic factors: (1) performance of a school’s men’s basketball and football teams; and (2) scandals associated with these athletic programs. Admissions data from 2001 – 2017 were compared to team performance during their football and basketball seasons in order to understand how these non-academic factors contribute to an individual’s decisions to apply for admission. A multivariate linear regression model with school and year fixed effects supported the hypothesis that athletic success positively affects the quantity of applications, increasing them by up to 3% in basketball and 11% in football in the following application period. Seasonal football success was also shown to have negative impacts on the distribution of standardized testing scores of future applicant classes, however these scores were shown to increase when a team played their best season in five or more years. Additional analysis of the effects of athletic program scandals reveals a significant negative effect on the number of applications received, although a deep dive into a few of the most prominent scandals suggests that the benefits associated with violating NCAA rules may, under the right circumstances, be well worth the risk.

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Advisor: Dr. James Roberts | JEL Codes: I23, J24, L82, L83, Z2

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

Measuring the Long-term Effects of Orphanhood

By Nicholas Thomas Gardner

This paper works towards developing the narrative of orphans whose parent or parents died from natural disaster. By taking advantage of the unanticipated nature of death from the 2004
Indonesian tsunami, orphanhood can be treated as much closer to random than similar literature using data centered on HIV/AIDS related deaths. We use a community level fixed effects model to attempt to derive a causal relationship between orphanhood and both education and log wages. Our models suggest that orphaned males aged 14 and older at baseline complete 1-2 fewer years of education than their cohorts. The adverse effects persist in the long-term, as these orphans earn 26% less than non-orphan cohorts.

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Advisors: Duncan Thomas and Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: I24, I25, I31, J24, J31

A Franchise Education: The Impact of High School Quality on the Operations of Quick Service Restaurant Franchises in Texas

By Joseph Yetter

While the franchise business model provides customers with a certain level of consistency, there is still considerable variation in service quality across locations. Among other factors, a franchise’s quality of human capital (i.e., its workers) contributes to the quality of its operations, one of the strongest determinants of its revenue. Assuming that low wage workers have minimal geographical mobility, this paper studies how worker education impacts operation scores at the Texas locations of a quick service restaurant franchise brand by studying local school quality. This analysis controls for internal and external operations influences, such as the franchisee, designated market area, retail location type, the location’s proximity to a highway, and per capita income of the area to isolate the effect of school quality on operations. Ultimately, this study finds that higher school quality ratings have a significant and positive impact on the operations of franchises, and that operations have a significant and positive impact on sales revenue. Decomposing operations scores, this study finds that school quality ratings primarily impact operations by reducing customer complaints.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Michelle Connolly, Ryan Mcdevitt | JEL Codes: J24, L8, L83 | Tagged: Business Operations, Education Quality, Franchise, Worker Productiviity

Implications of Teacher Tenure on Teacher Quality and Student Performance in North Carolina

By Dana Fenster

This paper examines the relationship between teacher tenure and teacher quality in North Carolina, measured via student performance on the state End of Grade (EOG) standardized tests. After presenting a comprehensive synopsis of the current teacher tenure policy, I use data from the North Carolina Education Research Data Center (NCERDC) to compare demonstrated teacher effectiveness across the tenure bubble, defined as one to eight years of teaching experience within the same district. Ultimately, I find that there is significant jump in average teacher quality at the tenure cutoff, suggesting that tenure policy is effective in retaining high quality teachers while removing those who are ineffective.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Hugh Macartney | JEL Codes: I21, J24, J41, M5 | Tagged: Economics of Education, Labor Economics, Teacher Tenure

An Assessment of Teach for America Effectiveness and Spillover Effects in North Carolina

By Thomas Burr

Teach for America, while a relatively small cog in the grand scheme of education reform in America, has become something of a flashpoint for debate between the educational establishment and a new generation of reformers. In the first part of this research, I add to a growing number of studies on the effectiveness of TFA teachers by preforming regression analysis of student outcomes in grades 3-5 in North Carolina from 1995-2009 and find that, as measured by end of grade (EOG) math and reading test scores, first-year TFA teachers produce gains that are statistically indistinguishable from experienced teachers and approximately .09 standard deviations higher than other first-year teachers in math and .05 standard deviations higher in reading. In the second part of this research, I build off of Jackson and Bruegmann (2009), who for the first time showed evidence of peer effects between teachers, meaning that the outcomes of your own students can be affected by the quality of the other teachers in your grade. After confirming the results of Jackson/Bruegmann with three additional years of data, I add TFA status as an additional observable characteristic into the equation and find a statistically significant and positive effect to having a peer TFA teacher in your grade across several models.

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Advisor: Thomas Nechyba | JEL Codes: I2, J24 | Tagged: Education, Peer Effects, Spillover, Teach for America

Job Choices, Flexibility and Maternal Labor Force Participation

By Samantha Cox

While there are countless studies concerning the effects of various variables on female labor force participation, there are still many unexamined intricacies involved in a woman’s choice to enter, re-enter or leave the work force. This paper attempts to extend on previous research and examine how the flexibility of a woman’s job influences her return to work after the birth of her first child. The findings support the results found in previous models which find a relationship between family size, hourly wage rate, other household income and age at first birth. The results further sought to address the elusive concept of culture’s effect on a woman’s labor decisions by using the woman’s religiosity. Most intrical to this research is the creation of two flexibility indices, one regarding occupation choice and one regarding industry choice, and the varying effect of these variables as well as the aforementioned explanatory variables over time. Using hazard analysis, a positive, significant relationship was established between the flexibility indices and the dependent variable when the influence of time was held constant. Also found was a positive relationship linking the likelihood of a woman returning to work after the birth of her first child, considering she has not already done so, with the interaction of the flexibility indices over time. Only the term interacting with the industry index was found to be significant.

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Advisor: Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: D1, J13, J24 | Tagged: Economics, Hazard/Survival Models, Industry, Labor Decisions, Maternity, Occupation, Women

The Nurture Effect: Like Father, Like Son. What about for an Adopted Child? A Study of Korean-American Adoptees on the Impact of Family Environment and Genes

By Suanna Seung-yun Oh

I investigate the influences of family environment and genes on children’s educational outcomes by working with data on Korean American adoptees and their non-adoptive siblings. I make use of the natural experiment setting where children were quasi-randomly assigned to families. From Sacerdote’s discussion of the three different approaches of analyzing the data, I derive a single-equation model that encompasses the three approaches as a few of its specific cases. The first part of my analysis identifies the causal effect of being assigned to a certain family environment. The second part of my analysis looks into causes of the differences between the educational attainment of adoptees and biological children, adding to the economists’ discussion on the relative importance of nature and nurture.

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Advisor: Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: J, J12,J13, J24 |  Tagged: Adoption, Child Development, Education, Environmental Influence

Questions?

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

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