Applied Economics and Management MS Theses

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    Do Formal Workers Use Informal Search Methods? Investigating Labor Search in Mexico.
    Zhong, Moira (2022-12)
    This study examines how formal sector employment affects the worker’s job search methods in Mexico. It studies how each worker and workplace characteristic is associated with the probability of using each job search method as opposed to private/public agencies using a multinomial logit model. It also examines a differential effect of using friends and family search in different sizes of town: the bigger the size of town, the more rewarding is friends and family search in terms of real monthly wages, and the possibility that the position offers any work-related benefits. In addition, it finds that using formal job search methods such as friends/family search, advertisement, internet search is associated with a slightly larger probability of that position being in the formal sector for males than females, while using direct approach is associated with a significantly larger probability of that position being in the formal sector for females than males. Importantly, it argues that the return to searching through friends and family is bigger in terms of real monthly income in towns of smaller sizes, even though larger towns are associated with higher real monthly income.
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    Minocha, Sumedha (2022-12)
    The erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh became the first state in India to provide one full meal per day to pregnant woman as a part of the supplementary nutrition program of the Integrated Child Development Services in 2013. The objective of the program is to fight maternal undernutrition by providing hot cooked meals at the Anganwadi center, in addition to direct administration of iron and folic acid supplements. I use two rounds of National family health survey of India to create a panel of cohort born from 2012 to 2018 and apply quasi- experimental methods to evaluate the impact of the given program on birth weight. Specifically, I use difference-in-difference model and event study design. Overall, I find a significant and positive effect of the program, with a 35- 44 grams improvement in birth weight and 3-3.5% lower probability of low birth weight babies, with the program’s effect concentrated in rural and poor households Given the importance of first 1000 days of life, including in-utero, the one full meal program for pregnant woman presents a scalable model for fighting the stubborn rates of maternal and child undernutrition in India.
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    Mensa, Nicole (2022-12)
    This paper explores the relationship between empowerment and a woman's employment type. The research is based on a field survey data of 795 women in the Northern Region of Ghana. The paper seeks to evaluate two things. Firstly, it examines the effect of empowerment on a woman's decision to enter the Shea butter industry in Ghana. Are more empowered women working in shea butter production? Or can evidence be found which shows that women who are more empowered choose to work in certain industries? Secondly, the paper also examines empowerment among different employment types within the shea butter industry. It seeks to understand how shea butter cooperatives might benefit women, and whether women who are more empowered will choose to work in shea butter cooperatives rather than choose to be shea butter entrepreneurs. This study uses an empowerment index to calculate the level of empowerment among each group. It then employs a logit and multinomial logit model to evaluate the relationship between empowerment and employment. The results show that women in shea butter cooperatives are the least empowered, followed by shea entrepreneurs and then entrepreneurs, who are the most empowered. The level of empowerment for each group is very close and quite low. When I evaluate how the empowerment categories impact employment, we find only a few empowerment categories to be significant. This means that only two or three empowerment statistics influenced a woman's employment decision. Thus, making it difficult to conclude that empowerment has any effect on employment choice.
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    Doruska, Molly (2022-12)
    Infectious disease exposure often covaries with labor productivity and incomes in ways that can trap people in a cycle of ill health and poverty. We explicitly model the interaction between agricultural households and their natural environment using a bioeconomic model of schistosomiasis infection in northern Senegal. We explore this relationship in the context of aquatic vegetation removal, an ecological intervention designed to decrease schistosomiasis infection by disrupting the life cycle of the parasite. We find evidence of a poverty-disease trap as incomes are lower when households do not remove vegetation, as is true presently. Vegetation removal decreases infection relative to the no removal case. Eliminating the feedback loop between fertilizer and vegetation growth allows households to fully clear the water source and results in higher labor productivity and incomes. The results underscore the importance of fully addressing the cycle of infection when working to reduce disease burdens and poverty.
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    Zhou, Geqing (2022-05)
    Consumers rely on the information on food packages to make informed choices. However, manufacturers may sometimes adopt inefficient labeling to establish a superior product image and charge price premiums. This study first focuses on labeling redundancy implied by the USDA Organic Seal and Non-GMO Project Verified (NGPV) mark on plant-based milk products, and statistically evaluates the price premiums attributable to their existence. In addition, this study characterizes and examines a second form of labeling inefficiency: trace amounts of unqualified ingredients permitted by certifying entities but not explicitly communicated to consumers. The researcher utilizes an innovative, incentive-compatible online survey with randomized information treatments to collect respondents’ willingness to pay for certified plant-based milk products, and quantifies the impact of enhanced consumer knowledge about the underlying facts. In short, exact dollar amounts associated with multiple forms of labeling inefficiency and information treatments are calculated; distinctive preferences are identified among consumers with dairy sensitivities and vegan or vegetarian status, as the former group preferred soy milk while the latter one favored oat milk; demand for oat milk decreased as consumer’s age increased; single presence of the USDA Organic Seal was more attractive than NGPV mark; there was a diminishing return instead of any synergy for dual-labeling; the product type of oat, age, household income and single presence of either the USDA Organic Seal or NGPV mark were significant stimuli attracting people to adopt soy and oat milk products; the public was relatively more informed about USDA Organic criteria; there was a strong bias among people who self-identified as being familiar with NGPV criteria; and finally, information about certification exceptions actually increased consumer WTP under the specific conditions of this study. Results of this study could facilitate consumer education, firm decisions and policymaking.
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    Estimating the Effects of the Conservation Reserve Program on Water Quality of Agricultural Watersheds in the US
    Zhang, Tieyue (2022-05)
    Excessive anthropogenic inputs of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) to agricultural watersheds of the contiguous US have a detrimental impact on national water quality. In this paper, we develop a panel fixed effects model to examine the water quality response to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a federal program that reimburses farmland owners to convert their land from agricultural production and restore it to natural habitats. We find that both N and P respond negatively to CRP enrollment, while the responsiveness of the nutrients differentiates between CRP contract types. In addition, we find the N response to continuous CRP enrollment to be more elastic than P. Our results have important implications for the causal inference procedures in the evaluation of conservation programs such as the CRP, while incorporating the effects from other explanatory variables that may preserve strong spatial variability.
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    Zhang, Hanlong (2022-05)
    We designed an online field experiment to examine the impact of social–media generic advertising related to walnuts on consumers’ purchasing behavior and willingness to pay (WTP). Volunteers (n = 751) were assigned into three different groups with one control and two treatment groups, shown advertisements in the form of Twitter posts, and surveyed. The control group was shown ten coffee advertisements rather than walnut advertisements. The two treatment groups randomly received either ten posts related to the health benefits of California walnuts or recipes using walnuts. After browsing the posts, participants were asked to reveal their WTP for ten different products, including raw walnuts, salted walnuts, unsalted walnuts, raw pecans, raw cashews, and more. Our results suggested that participants in the two treatment groups had higher WTP for walnuts than participants in the control group. Moreover, posts about the health benefits of walnuts increased subjects’ WTP more than posts with recipes using walnuts. In addition, the walnut–related posts also increased participants’ WTP for pecan and cashew products. This indicates that social–media generic advertising has a positive spillover effect on pecan and cashews.
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    Shifts in Political Environment and Industry Momentum: Evidence from Global Stock Markets
    Wang, Zhongyang (2022-05)
    This paper aims to examine whether shifts in the political environment can explain industry momentum profits in global stock markets. In the U.S., Canada and Australia, I find that the politically consistent momentum strategy, which takes a long position in industries that are both winners and politically favored and a short position in industries that are both losers and politically unfavored, outperforms the standard momentum strategy. In contrast, the politically inconsistent momentum strategy, which has a long position in industries that are winners but politically unfavored and a short position in industries that are losers but politically favored does not generate significant profits. Further, I find that a political-sensitivity-based long-short portfolio explains approximately 20% to 40% of industry momentum profits in the three countries. This explanatory power is concentrated around presidential (prime minister) elections. Overall, the results support the theory that investor underreaction to political information generates momentum. In other countries in which the pattern cannot explain momentum returns, I attempt to provide a new conjecture.
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    Farmer’s Choices and Informal Loans in China: Risk-sharing and Personality Effects
    Wang, Yunran (2022-05)
    At times, development economists have argued informal loans serve the same role as informal insurance. Empirical research shows that the motives for using informal loans are that rural households want to share risks when external shock occurs. Instead of looking at the village level, we construct a national-wide panel dataset based on the China Family Panel Study (CFPS) and the China National Bureau of Statistics to investigate Chinese farmers' motives for using informal loans and giving gifts among the social network of friends and relatives. To control for potential endogeneity between borrowing amounts, lending amounts, and the value of the gifts given, we develop a system of simultaneous equations and apply the Three-Stage Least Squares (3SLS). Our results support the hypothesis of reciprocity motives and emphasize the impact of the rural household head's personality on the financial behaviors, but we do not support the assumption of informal loans as insurance.
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    Liang, Luqi (2022-05)
    This thesis aims to explore the differential effects of partner type, namely IP Movie, Commercial Brand and Celebrity, in the effectiveness of the symbolic co-branding strategy in the cosmetics industry. Based on the Structure Equation Model proposed by prior research, we conclude that IP Movie takes more effect in improving consumers’ willingness to pay and attitudes towards co-branded products, followed by Celebrity and Commercial Brand. Besides, this thesis makes two extensions to the current knowledge. First, the moderating effect of brand familiarity is explored and we find that high brand familiarity will weaken the influence of partner type. Second, three consumer-related variables, “need for uniqueness”, “altruism motivation” and “discreet positive emotions”, are introduced as mediators and account for the relations between partner type and consumers’ evaluations to co-branding. The results provide directions of how to select partners of co-branding in real business settings.