Essays in the Economics of Education and Disability
Prenovitz, Sarah Jessica
My dissertation examines issues in determining program eligibility and participation in education and Social Security Disability Insurance program, and analyzes the effectiveness of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundations Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program. In my first chapter I investigate school responses to incentives created by No Child Left Behind to alter special education placement, and use these responses as instruments to estimate the effect of special education placement. I use administrative data from the universe of North Carolina Public Schools and a difference-in-difference framework in which incentives are determined by the interactions between schools’ expectations about subgroup performance on the one hand and student performance and subgroup membership on the other. I find that schools use special education to target supports and services to students close to the passing threshold in reading when the school benefits from their passing. Schools also select the special education group to be higher performing when doing so benefits the school. Special education decreases attendance and has large negative effects on the math scores of some marginal students. The second chapter explores the effect of time spent waiting for a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) decision on health and well-being. Previous research has shown that SSDI in general, and wait time in particular, depresses labor market activity, but other effects are largely unexplored. I use administrative data from the Social Security Administration linked to the National Health Interview Survey, and use summary data to create instruments for wait time. A longer wait increases the number of conditions causing activity limitations and the likelihood of having current benefits at survey, and decreases the likelihood of seeking a reconsideration or having benefits terminated at survey. The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUFP) aims to increase the number of underrepresented minorities entering earning PhDs, with an eye to improving their representation in academia. The third chapter evaluates whether the MMUFP increased the number of PhDs achieved by underrepresented minority students (URMs) at participating undergraduate institutions. The chapter finds no evidence that participation in the program causes a statistically significant increase in the numbers of PhDs completed by URM students, and increases greater than about one PhD per institution per cohort lie outside a 95% confidence interval of the estimates.
Special Education; Disability studies; Economics; Higher Education; Education policy; Disability; Accountability; Program Evaluation
Ehrenberg, Ronald Gordon
Lovenheim, Michael F.; Ziebarth, Nicolas R.
Ph. D., Economics
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis