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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

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

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

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

Security Without Equity? The Effect of Secure Communities on Racial Profiling by Police

By Jack Willoughby

Anecdotal and circumstantial evidence suggest that the implementation of Secure Communities, a federal program that allows police officers to more easily identify illegal immigrants, has increased racial bias by police. The goal of this analysis is to empirically evaluate the effect of Secure Communities on racial bias by police using motor vehicle stop and search data from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. This objective differs from most previous research, which has largely attempted to quantify racial profiling for a moment in time rather than looking at how an event influences racial profiling. I examine the effects of Secure Communities on police treatment of Hispanics vs. whites with an expanded difference-in-difference approach that looks at outcomes in
motor vehicle search success rate, search rate conditional on a police stop, stop rate, and police action conditional on stop. Statistical analyses yield no evidence that the ratification of Secure Communities increased racial profiling against Hispanics by police. This finding is at odds with the anecdotal and circumstantial evidence that has led many to believe that the ratification of Secure Communities led to a widespread increase in racial profiling by police, a discrepancy that should caution policy makers about making decisions driven by stories and summary statistics.

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Advisor: Frank Sloan | JEL Codes: J15, K14, K37, K42 | Tagged: Racial Policing, Bias, Immigration Law, Secure Communities

Marijuana Pricing Structure and State-Level Price Determinants

By Rebecca Li

This study uses the PriceofWeed.com data set first examined in Thies (2012) to analyze the price-quantity relationship for marijuana transactions and to determine the effect of various state-level factors on marijuana prices. By applying the cost-based full fixed cost recovery pricing model developed by Britney, Kuzdrall, and Fartuch (1983), this paper finds support for an inverse price-quantity relationship for marijuana rather than a logarithmic or linear relationship. User-rated quality is robust and significant across all models, and price-quantity discount elasticity of -0.220 is observed empirically. An analysis of state-level legal, demand-side, and supply-side determinants of marijuana price demonstrates that medical marijuana has a negative relationship with price, perhaps due to the reduction in risk faced by suppliers when medical marijuana is legalized.

Honor’s Thesis

Data Set

Advisor: Michael Munger, Phil Cook | JEL Codes: D04, I18, K42 | Tagged: Marijuana, Price, Quality, Transaction Size

Market Power & Reciprocity Among Vertically Integrated Cable Providers

By Jeffery Shih-kai Shen

This paper seeks to investigate the effects of vertical integration on the cable industry. There are two main goals that the research paper will attempt to address. The first is to build upon existing research on favoritism shown by multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to affiliated video programming networks. Second, the paper will use 2007 and 2010 industry data to investigate the possible existence of “quid pro quo” among vertically integrated MVPD cable providers. After evaluating the data with multivariate OLS Regressions, the evidence suggests that MVPD cable providers do tend to carry their own affiliated programming networks. Furthermore, the evidence supports the hypothesis that reciprocity relationships exist among major vertically integrated cable providers.

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JEL Codes: C01, D22, K21 | Tagged: Cable Provider, Empirical Analysis, Programming Distributor, Programming Network, Vertical Integration

Questions?

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

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