Essays on New Income Opportunities for Disadvantaged Populations in the U.S.

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Although historically Native Americans were displaced from resource-rich areas to resource-poor areas, substantial reserves of shale oil, gas, uranium, and some other resources were subsequently discovered on reservations. In the second chapter of this thesis I study how extraction of shale oil, gas, and uranium has contributed to disparities in today's economic outcomes across Native American reservations. Since extraction of resources on a reservation might be endogenous to the economic development of the reservation or political institutions of the tribes populating it, I instrument for shale drilling with whether a reservation is sitting on a shale oil or gas tight play and use a similar approach to instrument for uranium mining. I find that shale drilling on reservations, which has been a relatively recent phenomenon, is associated with a significant reduction in today's unemployment rate and an increase in today's mean household income, though these findings are not robust to the Bonferroni correction. At the same time, I find that uranium mining, which peaked during the Cold War, is associated with a significant decline in today's mean household income on reservations (and this finding is robust to the Bonferroni correction). Using the same instrumental variable approach, I explore whether the persistent negative income effect of a history of uranium mining on reservations is at least partly driven by health consequences and find that a history of uranium mining increases the availability of hospitals on the affected reservations, which I interpret as evidence that the health channel is at least partly responsible for the persistent negative income effect of uranium mining. Other potential channels for the negative income effect of uranium mining are also discussed. This year Uber Technologies Inc. has celebrated a 10-year anniversary since the launch of the app in San Francisco in May of 2010, yet little is still known about the micro-economic effects of Uber. In the third chapter of this thesis I exploit two sources of plausibly exogenous variation - the geographical spread of UberX across about 90 largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) during 2010-2017 and Uber bans in 8 MSAs - in a difference-in-differences research design to test whether Uber availability affected weekly hours worked by males with lower levels of educational attainment. I find that both the initial introduction of UberX and lifting of Uber bans raised hours worked by males of color with less than a bachelor's degree. No significant effects for white males with lower levels of educational attainment are observed. These results are robust to a variation in the model specification, definition of treatment as the introduction of Uber as opposed to UberX, and a falsification test in which each MSA is assigned an incorrect date for UberX entry or lifting of an Uber ban. Possible mechanisms for the effect of Uber on males of color with no college education include employment with Uber and other ride-hailing companies that followed Uber as well as improved access to employment opportunities.

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89 pages


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Committee Chair

Kanbur, Ravi

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Basu, Arnab K.

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Applied Economics and Management

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M.S., Applied Economics and Management

Degree Level

Master of Science

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dissertation or thesis

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