Essays on Public and Labor Economics

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This dissertation consists of three essays, each using extensive data and rigorous empirical methods to investigate key questions within the fields of public and labor economics with a focus on socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequality. In Chapter 1, I study how the social, learning, and working conditions (school climate) experienced by students, families, and teachers is valued by stakeholders. To study this question, I investigate how publicizing school climate information is capitalized into the housing market and how it affects the sorting of homebuyers from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Using a plausibly exogenous shock of school climate information in Chicago, I employ event studies and a difference-in-differences framework. I find that providing this information publicly leads to an increase in sales price for homes assigned to schools with better climate ratings. Additionally, I find that the information shock also attracts higher income homebuyers into neighborhoods with better climate schools. These initial effects dissipate over time, as information becomes less salient. The effects are consistent across different types of schools and neighborhoods. I find evidence that homebuyers value this dimension of school quality that has been understudied in the revealed preferences literature. In Chapter 2, I investigate how changing the odds of admissions to elite K–12 exam schools affects families’ residential decisions. To do this, I leverage a natural experiment created by Chicago’s place-based affirmative action policy, where neighborhoods across the city can experience exam school admissions benefits from year to year. I conduct difference-in-differences and event study analyses to compare changes in the outcomes of neighborhoods with varying odds of admissions shocks, before and after these shocks are revealed and implemented each application year. My findings offer evidence that families are willing to pay and, hence, strategize the place-based affirmative action admissions policy in Chicago. Therefore, under this current system, families are able to pay for better odds of admissions to elite exam schools. Furthermore, higher income and white families react more to these admissions benefits, which is the opposite of race- and place-based admissions policies' intentions to prioritize non-white and low-income students, respectively. In Chapter 3, I explore how local immigration enforcement policies can have demographic and economic impacts on local communities through effects on potential homebuyers’ willingness to purchase homes. Using an event study and triple-difference framework, I find evidence that implementing local 287(g) partnerships led to large and statistically significant declines in the number of home loan applications by Latino applicants compared to non-Latino applicants. I find that the most intrusive enforcement model (Task Force) had the strongest detrimental effects of all the 287(g) models. Additionally, I demonstrate that studies that use the sample of counties that apply for and are rejected or accepted by ICE into 287(g) partnerships must be cautious and account for strong differences in trends between these counties.

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194 pages


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affirmative action; housing market; immigration; inequality; public economics; school choice


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Committee Chair

Fitzpatrick, Maria D.

Committee Co-Chair

Committee Member

Lovenheim, Michael F.
Miller, Douglas L.

Degree Discipline

Policy Analysis and Management

Degree Name

Ph. D., Policy Analysis and Management

Degree Level

Doctor of Philosophy

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Attribution 4.0 International


dissertation or thesis

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