Date of Degree

9-2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Economics

Advisor

David Jaeger

Committee Members

Michael Grossman

Theodore Joyce

Subject Categories

Economics | Health Economics | Labor Economics

Abstract

This dissertation consists of three chapters and covers topics in applied microeconomics broadly defined as health and labor. The precise topics are varied, with their unifying thread being that they are all related to marginalized or at-risk communities. The first chapter estimates the impact of Daylight Saving Time (DST) on deaths of despair (DoD) in the United States. Using Multiple Cause-of-Death Mortality Data from the National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics from 1979-1988, the effect is identified in two ways: a regression discontinuity design (RDD) that exploits discrete time changes in the Spring and Fall; and a fixed effects model (FE) that is identified with a policy change and a switching mechanism that introduces random variation to DST's start and end dates. This is one of the first attempts to estimate the impact of DST on DoD and the first to use either identification strategy. The results from both methods suggest that the sleep disruptions during the Spring transition cause suicide rates to rise by 6.25 percent and all DoD to increase by 6.59 percent. There is no evidence for any change in suicide or all DoD during the Fall transition. The contrasting results from Spring to Fall suggest that the entire effect can be attributed to disruptions in sleep patterns rather than changes in ambient light exposure.

The second chapter estimates the magnitude of own race preference among referees in professional basketball. Previous research in this vein has depended on foul frequency and the overall racial composition of referee crews for its estimates. This research adds to the literature by exploiting two unique data sets from the National Basketball Association (NBA). The first of these identifies the specific referee that makes each foul call. The second reports whether each call and material non-call is correct during the last two minutes of close games. The results suggest referees call an additional 2-3 percent more calls against players of the opposite race, holding the number of opposite race referees constant. This own-race preference is consistent for both black and white referees. There is also evidence that monitoring can reduce or even eliminate this bias, a finding consistent with previous literature.

The final chapter estimates the impact of minimum wages on school enrollment, labor force participation, and idleness for people aged 16-19. Using the monthly release of the Current Population Survey for the years 1995 to 2016, the effect is identified by comparing outcomes in state-border-straddling county-pairs. This strategy represents an improvement over canonical two-way fixed effects model because it accounts for heterogeneous local labor market trends. The focus on this paper also represents a departure from the bulk of minimum wage literature, where the emphasis is on labor market outcomes. Here, the focus is on how minimum wages influence individual decision making. The results suggest minimum wages increase school enrollment, while the evidence for labor force participation and idleness is mixed and inconclusive.

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