Essays On The Economics Of Education And Health
This dissertation contains three distinct chapters. Each chapter utilizes a different type of data set and implements a different method to identify causal relationships regarding current issues in the economics of education and health. The first chapter analyzes persistence of minority and female students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors in college. I utilize student-course level data for all students attending public four-year universities to determine whether having an instructor of the same race or same gender affects persistence of black and female students within STEM fields. I implement an instrumental variable strategy to control for self selection into courses. Results indicate that black students who have an introductory STEM course taught by a black instructor are significantly more likely to persist in a STEM field after the first year. However, female students are less likely to persist when their introductory STEM courses are taught by female instructors. The second chapter (co-authored with Dr.John Cawley at Cornell University) is an evaluation of a program which offers financial incentives for weight loss. We analyze data from a company which provides a year-long health promotion program that offered financial rewards for weight loss. The types of incentive program varies by employer, with some offering steady payments for weight loss and others requiring participants to post a bond that is refundable based on achievement of weight loss goals. Comparing outcomes across groups, we find modest weight loss for participants after one year. The third chapter analyzes NCAA's Proposition 16 which changed the admission requirements for freshmen student-athletes at Division I colleges. Using institutional level data, I examine how requiring higher SAT scores and high school GPA for eligibility standards affects enrollment and graduation rates for Division I colleges. I implement a difference-in-differences approach using Division II schools and non-student-athletes as the comparison groups. The results indicate that after Proposition 16, Division I schools recruited fewer black freshmen student-athletes when compared with Division II schools. Additionally, I find that higher admission standards did not increase graduation rates at Division I schools.
dissertation or thesis