Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Terra McKinnish

Second Advisor

Francisca M. Antman

Third Advisor

Brian C. Cadena

Fourth Advisor

Jeffrey S. Zax

Fifth Advisor

Stefanie Mollborn


The first chapter evaluates the effectiveness of state arrest legislation to deter domestic violence. Mandatory arrest laws, recommended arrest laws, protective order laws, and primary aggressor laws are evaluated using homicide and suicide rates by state and year. This paper corrects the law classification and law enactment date specification errors in the current literature and allows for a broader look at domestic violence by using suicide rates in addition to the previously used homicide rates. I find that mandatory arrest laws, recommended arrest laws, and primary aggressor laws have no effect on homicide rates and that protective order laws show significant lowering of homicide rates, though only in one of two age groups. Using suicide rates, while recommended arrest laws increase suicide among women by an estimated 8-20\%, the more common mandatory arrest laws have no significant effect. Additionally, there is limited evidence for a protective effect of primary aggressor laws and no significant effect of protective order law.

The second chapter examines the effect of new student inflow into Arkansas following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Over sixty thousand people fled Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and came to Arkansas. School aged children were quickly registered and enrolled in local schools. Using this inflow of displaced students, I examine the effect of the inflow of these displaced students on incumbent students in Arkansas. Arkansas was the only state bordering Louisiana not affected by either Hurricane Katrina (Mississippi) or Hurricane Rita (Texas) allowing for an evaluation of incumbent students unaffected by the hurricanes. Additionally, unlike previous research which fits one model for all years post Katrina (giving an average over the two years post Katrina), I fit a separate model for one and two years post Katrina allowing me to test for short term disruption. I find a decrease in attendance one year post Katrina. The effect is largest in K-6th grades among white students and among male students. The effect is found state wide as well as in the subset of counties along major highways. The drop in attendance is short lived with no significant effect two years post Katrina.

The third chapter examines the effect of new student inflow following court mandated school consolidation. In this paper I examine the effect of peer group composition of student outcomes. I exploit the court mandated consolidation of Arkansas school districts with fewer than 350 students. The influx of new students changes the peer group composition of incumbent students and has two important characteristics. First, the new students and incumbent students are very similar demographically. The consolidated schools are in nearby and similar districts. Second, other than the change in school, new students have undergone a relatively minor disruption to their lives. They are living in the same home with the same family, friends, and neighbors. These two attributes allow for an examination of the effects of the introduction new student on incumbent students outcomes that is more closely tied to new student achievement. The incumbent students will not be reacting to demographic changes in the classroom and the behavior and achievements of the new students will not be influenced by having moved, possibly fled, their previous homes which could have been in another state or another country. The court ordered consolidation thus gives an exogenous shift in students large in scale with many students changing schools yet benign in implementation with the lives of the new students otherwise unchanged.

I assess the effect of peer group composition on incumbent student with a broad set of outcomes including attendance, mathematics and English language proficiency, and disciplinary infractions.

I regress individual level outcomes on the percent of new students in a school/grade from consolidation, the average prior year achievement of consolidated students, and the interaction between the two. I find that in the first year after consolidation, among high school students, the effect of average prior attendance increases with increasing new student inflow and that the effect of new student inflow increases with increasing prior average attendance. For male students in the first year after consolidation and for all students two years after consolidation, I find a similar significant effect on math scores where the interaction term is significant and positive.