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Category Archives: 2011

Trailer Park Economics

By Caitlin Gorback

In this paper, we explore the various reasons behind the development of the American institution of trailer parks. The first two models arise in equilibrium, the last two respond to housing shocks. Models include “Bad Tenants” in which tenants and landowners contract to protect against bad neighbors, a basic “Capital Constraints model in which tenants and landowners share the burden of capital costs, “Uncertain Growth” in which landowners respond to boom and bust economic growth, and “Long vs. Short Run Growth” in which landowners must decide how to invest on their land given rates of land appreciation.

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Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: R21, R23, R31 | Tagged: Housing, Manufactured Housing, Rural Growth, Trailer Parks, Urban Growth

Taming the Dragon: The Modernization of the Chinese Equity Markets and its Effects on IPO Underpricing

By William Benesh

The extreme underpricing of Chinese Initial Public Offerings in the early days of the Chinese equity markets was reduced by several reforms instituted by the Chinese government from around 2000 to 2002. These reforms reduced 1-day returns on IPOs from 295% to 72%. The reforms reduced IPO underpricing by decreasing the inequality between IPO supply and demand. These reforms, while announced between 2000 and 2002, likely took until around 2004 to take full effect. In addition to inequality between supply and demand, other factors such as information asymmetry and government/quality signaling contributed to underpricing both before and after the reforms.

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JEL Codes: G14, G15, G28, G30 | Tagged: China, Initial Public Offerings, Regulation, Stock Markets, Underpricing




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.

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Advisor: Charles Becker | JEL Codes: C23, H41, H52, H75, I24, I25 | Tagged: Achievement, Demolitions, Distressed Housing, HOPE VI, Neighborhood Effects, Public Housing, School Performance

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

Incentives in Professional Tennis: Tournament Theory and Intangible Factors

By Steven Seidel

This paper analyzes the incentives of professional tennis players in a tournament setting, as a proxy for workers in a firm. Previous studies have asserted that workers exert more effort when monetary incentives are increased, and that effort is maximized when marginal pay dispersion varies directly with position in the firm. We test these two tenets of tournament theory using a new data set, and also test whether other “intangible factors,” such as firm pride or loyalty, drive labor effort incentives. To do this, we analyze the factors that incentivize tennis players to exert maximal effort in two different settings, tournaments with monetary incentives (Grand Slams) and tournaments without monetary incentives (the Davis Cup), and compare the results. We find that effort exertion increases with greater monetary incentive, and that certain intangible factors can often have an effect on player incentives.

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Advisor: Curtis Taylor, Marjorie McElroy | JEL Codes: J31, J33, L38 | Tagged: Compensation, Sports, Tournament Theory

Beta Estimation Using High Frequency Data

By Angela Ryu

Using high frequency stock price data in estimating nancial measures often causes serious distortion. It is due to the existence of the market microstructure noise, the lag of the observed price to the underlying value due to market friction. The adverse eect of the noise can be avoided by choosing an appropriate sampling frequency. In this study, using mean square error as the measure of accuracy in beta estimation, the optimal pair of sampling frequency and the trailing window was empirically found to be as short as 1 minute and 1 week, respectively. This surprising result may be due to the low market noise resulting from its high liquidity and the econometric properties of the errors-in-variables model. Moreover, the realized beta obtained from the optimal pair outperformed the constant beta from the CAPM when overnight returns were excluded. The comparison further strengthens the argument that the underlying beta is time-varying.

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Advisor: George Tauchen | JEL Codes: C51, C58, G17 | Tagged: Beta estimation, Beta Trailing Window, High-Frequency Data, Market Microstructure Noise, Optimal Sampling Interval, Realized Beta

“Winner-­‐Take-­‐All Economics” Professional Inquiry and Public Discourse on Material Inequality

By Jonathan Pryor

What can account for the failure of economists to extend a firm guiding hand into the public discourse on material inequality in contemporary America? This paper reviews historical and modern economic literature and then extends its focus to the debates in the public sector, private opinion, “think tanks,” the news media, the private sector, special interest groups, and popular culture. The intractable social, political and economic complexity of the problem and the influence of competing interests deter attempts at economic interpretation. Economists should respond to the public need by devoting greater attention to descriptive and prescriptive analyses, developed with an appreciation of the competing interests and activities of the various sectors that must accept any response.

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Advisor: Craufurd Goodwin | JEL Codes: A11, A13, B12, B13, B14, B15 | Tagged: Economic Inequality, Income Inequality, Wealth Inequality

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

Extending the Possibilities of Kidney Exchange with Compatible Pairs

By Karna Mital

Kidney exchange enables incompatible pairs to exchange kidneys so each recipient can receive a transplant. Compatible pairs have not yet been incorporated in any kidney exchange program. The present study incorporates compatible pairs in cycles-only mechanism, and focuses on the HLA match aspect of match quality. When 27.7% of compatible pairs participate, between 50-67% more incompatible pairs can be matched than would be in a pool of only incompatible pairs (at the national level, 1000-1330 more transplants per year), and com- patible pairs see an average improvement in match quality of 2/3 of one HLA match.

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Advisor: Atila Abdulkadiroglu | JEL Codes: D82 | Tagged: Altruistically un-balanced Exchange, Compatible Pairs, HLA Match., Kidney Exchange, Live Donor Kidney Transplantation, Match Quality

Time-Varying Beta: The Heterogeneous Autoregressive Beta Model

By Kunal Jain

Conventional models of volatility estimation do not capture the persistence in high-frequency market data and are not able to limit the impact of market micro-structure noise present at very finely sampled intervals. In an attempt to incorporate these two elements, we use the beta-metric as a proxy for equity-specific volatility and use finely sampled time-varying conditional forecasts estimated using the Heterogeneous Auto-regressive framework to form a predictive beta model. The findings suggest that this predictive beta is better able to capture persistence in financial data and limit the effect of micro-structure noise in high frequency data when compared to the existing benchmarks.

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Advisor: George Tauchen | JEL Codes: C01, C13, C22, C29, C58 | Tagged: Beta, Financial Markets, Heterogeneous Autoregressive, Persistence


Undergraduate Program Assistant
Jennifer Becker

Director of the Honors Program
Michelle P. Connolly