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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

The Impact of Access to Public Transportation on Residential Property Value: A Comparative Analysis of American Cities

By Moses Snow Wayne

This paper develops a consistent model for analyzing the impact of access to public transportation on property value applied to the four cities of Atlanta, Boston, New York, and San Francisco. This study finds a negative relationship between increasing distance to public transit and property value. Additionally, the elicited effects in each city generally align with geographic features and the degree to which a city is monocentric. This study also demonstrates the salience of using actual map-generated distances as proximity measures and characteristics of public
transit systems in modeling the relationship between public transportation and residential property value.

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Advisors: Dr. Patrick Bayer and Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: C12, R14, R30, R41

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.

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Advisor: Thomas Nechyba | JEL Codes: H7, H75, I22, I28, R23

The Toll of Commuting: The Effects of Commute Time on Well-Being

By M. Thomas Marshall Jr.

When deciding on housing location, people theoretically optimize for the best location given their commute time, housing cost, income, as well as other factors. Stutzer and Frey (2008) suggest that this is not true in some nations, such as in their investigation of Germany, with their results showing that the cost of an average commute is equivalent to 35.4% of the average income. This paper investigates the impact of commute time on the well-being of individuals in the United States, correcting for various other factors that determine housing choice such as race,
age, and whether they have a child living at home. The results of this study are clearly that the relationship found between commuting time and well-being cannot be proven to be statistically significant from zero, so there is not any evidence against optimization.

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Advisor: Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: D12, D61, R31, R41

Entrepreneurial Attractiveness: Amazon, Google, and the Search for Innovative Hot Spots

By Anna Katherine Kropf

Recent economic literature suggests that entrepreneurship in technological fields can spur economic growth, making it a popular topic for city development officials. Yet, this increasingly popular phenomenon is met by many economic questions. One of those questions is which characteristics of metropolitan areas are attractive to entrepreneurs. To answer the question of attractiveness on both the small business and corporate levels, I compare across two case studies: Amazon’s search for a second headquarters and Google’s tech hub network. Using principal component analysis, I statistically deduce seven components of attractiveness from an original 34 variables. These components are then weighted using three methods—a case study, a survey, and an empirical method—to produce comparable indices of attractiveness. Generally, I find that sizeable population and healthy economy are the strongest components. However, the statistically insignificant components that can change an urban area’s ranking considerably are talent and geographic network effects. Ultimately, creating policy to maximize these aspects can change a city’s innovative

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Advisor: Dr. Charles Becker | JEL Codes: O, O3, R, R1, R11

The Impact of Environmental Disamenities on Property Values: Evaluating the Municipal Fringe

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

BIDDING FOR PARKING: The Impact of University Affiliation on Predicting Bid Values in Dutch Auctions of On-Campus Parking Permits

By Grant Kelly

Parking is often underpriced and expanding its capacity is expensive; universities need a better way of reducing congestion outside of building costly parking garages. Demand based pricing mechanisms, such as auctions, offer a possible solution to the problem by promising to reduce parking at peak times. However, faculty, students, and staff at universities have systematically different parking needs, leading to different parking valuations. In this study, I determine the impact university affiliation has on predicting bid values cast in three Dutch Auctions of on-campus parking permits sold at Chapman University in Fall 2010. Using clustering techniques crosschecked with university demographic information to detect affiliation groups, I ran a log-linear regression, finding that university affiliation had a larger effect on bid amount than on lot location and fraction of auction duration. Generally, faculty were predicted to have higher bids whereas students were predicted to have lower bids.

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Advisor: Alison Hagy, Allan Collard-Wexler, Kent Kimbrough | JEL Codes: C38, C57, D44, R4, R49 | Tagged: Auctions, Parking, University Parking, Bidder Affiliation, Dutch Auction, Clustering

The Effect of Minority History on Racial Disparities in the Mortgage Market: A Case Study of Durham and New Haven

By Jisoo Yoon

In the aftermath of the housing market crash, the concentration of subprime mortgage loans in minority neighborhoods is a current and long-standing issue. This study investigates the presence of racial disparities in mortgage markets by examining two cities with contrasting histories of African American and Hispanic establishment: Durham, North Carolina and New Haven, Connecticut. This study examines data by the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), and distills the effect of minority legacy on the perception of racial risk by using econometric instruments to separate the behavior of national lenders and local lenders. The econometric methods allow national lenders to reflect objective risk measures and neighborhood race dynamics, while local lenders reflect subjective attitudes towards certain races. With its longer history of African American presence, Durham shows a positive attitude towards Black borrowers at the local level, while New Haven shows a more favorable attitude towards its Hispanic residents. Nonetheless, racial legacy also materializes as a negative factor in the form of increased residential segregation and spillover effects. Furthermore, a temporal variation analysis of pre- and post-mortgage market reform data affirms the disappearance of racial bias and continued presence of spillover risk in Durham.

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Advisor: Christopher Timmins | JEL Codes: C01, G21, J15, R21, R23, R31 | Tagged: Econometrics, Mortgages, Economics of Minorities, Races, Census, Migration, Population, Neighborhood Characteristics, Housing Supply and Market

The Impact of Suburbanization on Poverty Concentration: Using Transportation Networks to Predict the Spatial Distribution of Poverty

By Winston Riddick

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the determinants of concentrated poverty, a phenomenon where socioeconomically deprived groups are heavily concentrated in particular neighborhoods in a metropolitan area. Drawing on Land Use Theory and the Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis, I develop a theory that identifies suburbanization as a principal cause of poverty concentration. Using interstate highway expansion as a source of exogenous variation in suburbanization rates, I evaluate this relationship in 240 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) from 1960-1990, with concentrated poverty measured at the tract level. Panel regressions with MSA Fixed Effects find a positive and significant relationship between highway expansion and increased poverty concentration under a variety of specifications, including alternative measures of highways and an instrumented measure of urban population decline.

Honors Thesis

Advisor: Charles Becker, Michelle Connolly | JEL Codes: I30, J61, R13, R40 | Tagged: Highways, Poverty Concentration, Spatial Mismatch, Suburbanization, Transportation Networks

The effect of Mexico’s Conditional Cash Transfer Program on Migration Decisions

By Aki Ishikawa

The Mexican conditional cash transfer program, Oportunidades, is commonly overlooked for long-term evaluations. One understudied effect of this poverty-reduction program is the change in migration behavior caused by the cash transfers. Using data from the Mexican Family Life Survey, this study outlines the effects of the social net program on international migration of low-income households in Mexico. The results suggest that the program causes a positive increase in likelihood for international migration for program participants. Within participating households, individuals who are responsible for grant income tend to migrate less compared to the other members of the households. This research provides valuable insight into existing literature on migration of low-income households in relation to the availability of the conditional cash transfer program.

Honor’s Thesis

Data Set

Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: R2, R23, R28 | Tagged: Conditional Cash Transfer Program, Developmental Economics, International Migration


Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly