Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Essays in Health and Labor Economics Public Deposited

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  • Chapter 1 - this paper demonstrates that expanding access to Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) to lower-income women leads to positive selection in the health of the cohorts of children being born. I exploit the staggered timing of three privately funded programs which distributed LARCs at no cost to lower income-women in Colorado, Iowa and St. Louis. I implement an event-study design which compares trends in treated counties with other U.S. counties with similar family planning clinics, but which did not receive additional funding to distribute free LARCs. I find that expanded LARC access led to reductions of approximately 1.0 'extremely preterm' births and 1.1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. I find significant reductions in deaths due to birth defects, maternal pregnancy complications, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and homicide. My estimates imply a reduction of approximately 90 infant deaths and 85 extremely preterm births per year in Colorado. Using a back of the envelope calculation, I find that the Colorado program, which was funded by a $27 million donation, led to reductions in ventilation costs for extremely preterm births of approximately $5.6 million per year. These results suggest that giving lower-income women the means to control their fertility has the potential to reduce adverse infant health outcomes and could decrease the infant mortality gap which exists between the US and other leading economies.

    Chapter 2 - In late January, 1990, the salary of every National Hockey League (NHL) player was suddenly disclosed, ending a decades-long culture of pay secrecy. I find that underpaid players respond to this new information by reallocating effort from defense to offense, which is more highly compensated within the league. Underpaid players begin scoring more, but allow their teams to get scored on by even more than the additional goals they provide. Asymmetrically, overpaid players do not become more defensive-minded. Consistent with reference-dependent utility theory, I find suggestive evidence that this shift is more pronounced for underpaid players who play for teams with higher overall payrolls, as these players likely have a larger discrepancy between their actual salary and their reference point.

    Chapter 3 - Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes have become an increasingly popular policy to combat the worldwide obesity epidemic, but relatively little is known about their impact on health outcomes, particularly among high school aged students. In this paper, I use public-use data from the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System (YRBSS) to determine whether high school students living in three of the American cities which have implemented SSB taxes have experienced public health improvements. Using an event-study design that compares outcomes in treated districts to a group of similar control districts, I find significant reductions in both SSB consumption and average BMI, with suggestive evidence that the improvements are concentrated among female and non-white respondents.

Date Issued
  • 2023-03-18
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  • 2024-01-16
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