Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Daniel Kaffine

Second Advisor

Brian Cadena

Third Advisor

Jonathan Hughes

Fourth Advisor

Nicholas Flores

Fifth Advisor

Don Grant


This dissertation examines three distinct issues using applied microeconometric techniques and big data sets. Within the field of applied microeconometrics, I investigate the unintended consequences and externalities caused by a diverse set of events.

The first chapter examines the effect of social stigma on housing prices. I use the unique circumstances surrounding an unpredictable one-time event, the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre in Columbine, Colorado, to isolate a stigma and estimate its magnitude. Using a repeat sales framework I find the stigma generated by the Columbine Shooting reduced property values by 10 percent, resulting in a $19 million loss to property sellers in the year 2000 alone. The results show stigma may play a significant role in consumer preferences.

In the second chapter, my coauthor Greg Madonia and I focus on the impact that oil and gas wells in Colorado have on crime. Combining well data provided by and FBI crime data, we examine intra-county changes in both property and violent crime as wells open and shut down. We find that for every additional hundred wells active in a county, the number of violent crimes increases by one percent, and property crimes increase by two percent. Public policy makers should anticipate this increase in crime during the beginning of a resource boom.

In the third chapter, I examine the effect of prenatal air pollution on adult labor outcomes. I combine a longitudinal survey with historical air pollution data to find that a standard deviation increase in particulate matter results in a one percent increase in the probability that an individual is disabled. There is also evidence that the second trimester of gestation is when a fetus is most vulnerable and that there is a threshold that must be reached before air pollution can have an effect.