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Departmental Honors

Miami University and the Farmer School of Business are committed to facilitating and supporting undergraduate research, and the economics department achieves this goal largely through its departmental honors program. Recent honors theses have addressed a variety of topics, including:

  • Effectiveness of state laws on child obesity.
  • Pay and performance in the NBA.
  • Movie box office success on amusement park attendance.
  • Needle exchange programs and health outcomes.
  • The business cycle and college enrollment.
  • The Bakken oil fields and education.
  • Guns and crime.

For the departmental honors program, high-achieving students are identified in the spring of their junior year, and interested students are matched with advisors appropriate for their topics. Research starts in the summer and continues through the fall semester. Students conclude by presenting senior theses in the middle of the spring semester at our honors conference.

An original undergraduate research experience showcases both the analytical abilities and empirical skills of a student, attributes that are highly valued by many prospective employers and graduate schools. It also offers a rare chance to work closely and at length with a faculty member. As former honors students attest, though, the greatest payoff is the growth that comes in the transition from being a consumer to a producer of knowledge.

The program runs parallel with the University Honors program, and successful completion of departmental honors typically satisfies the requirement for Honors with Distinction.

For additional information on the departmental honors program or to review past honors theses, please contact our Honors Coordinator Professor Jonathan Wolff.

Student Theses


Teddy Caulton

Title: “The Existence of a Free-Riding Problem in Tip-Pooling Businesses”
Adv: Dr. Steve Elliott

Sofiya Kryvoruchenko

Title: “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Service Industry: Evidence from Privately Owned Restaurants”
Adv: Dr. Austin Smith

“The pandemic resulting from the spread of the COVID-19 virus caused an ongoing period of economic downturn. Due to the low cyclicality of the service industry, previous recessions hit other fields more severely, creating a unique case of decline during the pandemic. However, due to the inflexible and high contact nature of the restaurant business, we see drastic differences across wages, employment, and number of establishments with an increase in COVID-19 cases. We focus on the survivability of the service industry throughout the pandemic. We hypothesize that warmer climates tend to improve the health of the industry in the observed state. By constructing a two-way fixed effect model with interaction between weather and cases, we find that with medium to severe cases numbers, an increase in temperature leads to a positive effect on the service industry outcomes.”

Micah Fields

Title: “Global Spillovers of U.S. Climate Policy: Evidence from E.U. Carbon Emissions Futures”
Adv: Dr. David Lindequist

“We investigate how expected paradigm shift in U.S. climate policy impact other climate policies globally by examining changes in the prices of carbon emissions futures contracts in the European Union around the 2016 and 2020 U.S. presidential elections. Utilizing a constant average returns methodology, we find returns within the event windows that differ significantly from the average return prior to the events. Specifically, we find highly robust directional effects of U.S. climate policy, indicating markets expect the European Commission to loosen and tighten climate policy in coordination with U.S. efforts. We suggest this to mean that markets believe the U.S. and E.U. engage in a common interest game with respect to climate policy, such that their policy decisions are strategic compliments.”

Bryanna Renuart

Title: “The 2011 German Nuclear Energy Shutdown: A Synthetic Control Study”
Adv: Dr. Jing Li

“This paper contrasts the trajectory of Germany's nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides, particulate matter 2.5, and carbon dioxide emissions with the trajectory of a data-driven weighted average of similar economies. The synthetic Germany is constructed to reveal the counterfactual of what would have happened to Germany's environment  in the absence of shutting down eight nuclear reactors in 2011. We report a negative environmental impact. For instance, the energy-supply nitrogen oxides increased by 3.28% in Germany within five years of nuclear shutdown, whereas they dropped by 13.11% in synthetic Germany. The difference, 16.39%, is the estimated treatment effect of 2011 nuclear shutdown on energy-supply nitrogen oxides.”

Aaron Garner

Title: “Fuel Surcharges: Railroads’ Exercise of Market Power”
Adv: Dr. Chuck Moul

“This paper proposes a new methodological approach to define rail markets by using geospatial clustering to assign terminals into disjoint local markets. These new rail markets then resemble the unidirectional city-pair from the airline literature. This new definition of railroad markets is applied to estimate the determinants of fuel surcharges, especially market shares, as implemented under the current regulatory safe harbor regime. Motivational analyses show shipments where a fuel surcharge is implemented have higher rates than shipments where a fuel surcharge is not implemented. It is then estimated a 10 percentage point increase in a railroad’s market share is associated with an increase of in the fuel surcharge.”

Davis Heyman

Title: “The effect of Football Scholarships on Institutional Outcomes”
Adv: Dr. Peter Nencka 

“Many American universities have a football program that operate at a financial deficit. This deficit is made up by money coming from other parts of the university’s budget. Athletic scholarships are a large contributor to the expenses, and thus deficits of the program. An understudied question is the impact of football scholarships on overall institutional outcomes. Leveraging a policy change by the Patriot League, I show that offering football scholarships does not improve key performance indicators for the university.”

Isabella Mancini

Title: “Can Nursing Homes Survive a Minimum Wage Increase?: How CNA Staffing Affects Nursing Home Profitability”
Adv: Dr. John Bowblis 

Mitchell Boice

Title: “Financial Deregulation and the Great Moderation”
Adv: Dr. Jonathan Wolff

“This paper examines the 1970s and 1980s deregulation of interstate banking restriction as a possible cause for the Great Moderation. Characterized by its abrupt drop in volatility at the national level, I disaggregate the Moderation and recognize the importance of explaining the role of interstate business cycle correlations in the reduction of aggregate volatility. Using empirical methods, I demonstrate two items: a series of disaggregated structural breaks to the volatility of state business cycles occurring before the U.S. aggregate, and suggestive evidence supporting the theory that an integrated banking system can reduce volatility by allowing for state and regional shocks to be smoothed across a more interconnected national economy. I establish the former by use of a cumulative sum of squared residuals test, which is common in the literature of the Great Moderation. Furthermore, I establish the latter by implementing a more novel Synthetic Difference-in-Differences approach.”

C.J. Walker

Title: “Fiscal Cliffs and Economic Growth: An Endogenous Regime Switch Approach”
Adv: Dr. Jonathan Wolff 

Emma LaGuardia

Title: “The Community College Expansion Period: A Historical Perspective on Accessible Higher Education"
Adv: Drs. Riley Acton and Greg Niemesh 

“Community colleges are an important tool to study how increased access to higher education may affect individual and community outcomes. Previous literature has focused on various tuition policies to understand these outcomes in the modern day. I expand our understanding of college accessibility by using distance as a proxy for opportunity cost of higher education. Focusing on a historical perspective, I exploit a major expansion of community colleges in the period from about 1950 to 1980 as a natural experiment for increased accessibility. I use a two-way fixed effects model to determine the effects of increased access on several educational and labor-market outcomes. I find that, in general, the presence of a community college in one’s community when they are age 16 or 17 is associated with slightly higher educational attainment, greater likelihood of completing either two or four years of college, and a lower probability of unemployment in adulthood. I argue in favor of the democratization effect of community colleges.”


Ryan Burghart

Advisor: Jing Ling

Title: Do Economic Factors Help Forecast Political Turnover? Comparing Parametric and Nonparametric Approaches

Abstract: Political turnover is the change in a government from one ruling political party to another. Turnover often leads to the redaction of policies from the previous administration, creating periods of political as well as economic instability. While turnover can impact an economy, the economy can also impact an electorate’s perspective on the ruling political body. This study looks to answer the question: can we predict turnover using economic indicators such as unemployment rate? Using linear probability models, logistic regression, and classification tree models, we examine relationships between factors such as unemployment, inflation, and investment on political outcomes for presidential and congressional elections. We compare the forecasting performance of parametric models to nonparametric models. Current results find that there are strong relationships between economic indicators and political outcomes but lack accuracy in prediction

Elliott Crummer

Advisor: John Bowblis

Title: The Impact of Payer-Mix on COVID-19 Vulnerability of Nursing Homes: Evidence from Ohio

Abstract: COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on nursing homes due to the vulnerable populations that live there. I investigate what characteristics are associated with the probability of having a COVID-19 case and the number of cases over the first six months of the pandemic using logistic and negative binomial regressions. I focus on payer-mix as an explanatory variable for COVID-19 outcomes, due to the cancellation of elective surgeries and subsequent change in payer-mix. Despite expectations, I find no significant, consistent relationship between payer-mix and COVID-19 outcomes. I confirm previous results on what characteristics of facilities are indications of cases, including size, urban status, and BIPOC population. I also find chain status, occupancy, and case-mix to be associated with the number of cases. These results help to understand the impact COVID-19 is having on different types of nursing facilities and contribute to a larger analysis of the impact COVID-19 is having on the U.S. healthcare system.

Julia Draeb

Advisor: Jing Ling

Title: Reexamining the Expectations Hypothesis of the term structure of interest rates: An Out-of-Sample Forecasting Perspective

Abstract: The expectations hypothesis of the term structure of interest rates implies that the long term and short-term interest rates are linked. This paper determines whether that link can help improve the forecast of future interest rates and how that forecasting power differs across term differences. With rolling windows, the out-of-sample fore-casting errors based on the autoregressive distributive lag models are compared to the autoregressive model. From the forecasting perspective, I find evidence that the link-age becomes weaker as the term difference increases. This finding complements the previous study of Li and Davis (2017).

Emma LaGuardia

Advisor: Greg Niemesh

Title: Rationalizing Trends in Educational Assortative Mating over the Early 20th-Century United States

Abstract: Understanding trends in assortative mating is essential to understanding how in-equality may change over time. Little research has been done on trends in assortative mating in the early 20th century, especially during a period known as the “high school movement” which saw a rapid increase in the availability of secondary education and a decline in economic inequality. I use the Seperable Extreme Value Index developed by Chiapporiet al.(2020) to determine changes in assortative mating and perform a counterfactual analysis. I find that positive assortative mating decreased among high school-educated people between the 1880-89 and 1890-99 birth cohorts. This is consistent with a counterfactual simulation which suggests that the value of positive assortative mating also decreased. I use the general openness, saturation, and status-attainment hypotheses to rationalize the trends in assortative mating over the entire 20th century

Michael Molchan

Advisor: Tyler Henry

Title: Growth Opportunities and Extreme Market Reactions to Mergers and Acquisitions: Do Growth Targets Generate Extreme Announcement Day Returns?

Abstract: This thesis examines the link between a target firms growth opportunities and the likelihood of an extreme stock market reaction to merger and acquisition announcements. While there is utility in observing the average cumulative abnormal return to shareholders, not all firms involved in an M&A transaction can expect to receive the average return. Instead, many firms receive extremely positive or extremely negative announcement day returns. Cumulative abnormal returns (CARs) are estimated for 812 target firms and 571 acquirer firms with announcement dates between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2019. The growth opportunities of the corresponding target firms are approximated using the KBM model and the target firm’s market-to-book ratio. Target shareholders were significantly more likely to experience extreme announcement day returns when their firm was classified as a growth target while acquirer shareholders were significantly less likely to experience extreme announcement day returns when acquiring a growth target. However, the impact of a target firm’s growth opportunities is rendered statistically insignificant after controlling for acquirer characteristics such as the acquirer’s size, cash, capex, assets, and market-to-book ratio. Ultimately, the relationship between target growth potential and extreme announcement day returns is inconclusive.

Rukumini (Ruku) Pal

Advisors: Greg Niemesh and Melissa Thomasson

Title: Economic Effect of Sole Hospital Closure on Rural Community

Abstract: This paper analyzes a panel from 1996 – 2014 of rural counties that had a single hospital in 1996 to estimate the impact of a hospital closure on county economic activity employment, total payroll, and number of establishments. Using a two-way fixed effect regression model, I find ambiguous results as to the true effect of the sole hospital closure. The results indicate either little to no direct effect on the rural community as a whole or that the data set lacks enough variation to capture the true effect.

Henry Shaneyfelt

Advisor: Chuck Moul

Title: Flying Under the Radar: Multimarket Contact and Tacit Collusion in the U.S. Airline Industry

Abstract: This paper serves to identify the effects of multimarket contact on tacit collusion through the measures of average price and price dispersion. Implementing methods used in Evans and Kessides(1994) and Ciliberto and Williams(2014), I employ gate-use data to instrument for the average multimarket contact variable and addressany potential bias from endogeneity. Additionally, squared gate-use instruments, which are novel to the existing literature, are included in the analysis. When using the novel instruments, a significant positive relationship is found between average multimarket contact and both prices and price dispersion.

Noah Tilton

Advisor: Deborah Fletcher

Title: Don't Forget the Time: Revisting Prior Studies Estimating Impact of College Sports on Academic Achievement

Abstract: I revisit the studies performed by Lindo, Swensen, and Waddell (2012) and Hernandez-Julian and Rothoff (2014) to determine the impact of athletic success on student performance at a university with smaller Division I athletic programs. I use data from Miami University spanning fall of 2007 to the spring of 2018 and utilize student and subject-by-level fixed effects in my estimations. However, I am unable to include time fixed effects, which poses significant concerns regarding the validity of the results. Despite the smaller scale that Miami’s athletic programs compete at, I find that the success of the men’s ice hockey, men’s basketball, and football teams have significant impacts on student performance. Specifically, student performance and the gender gap between male and female students is most impacted by the success of the hockey team in the fall. However, the success of the football team is found to impact student performance in the spring, despite the football competing exclusively in the fall. The findings of my analysis call into question the results found in previous studies estimating this relationship, and demonstrate that the inclusion of time fixed effects is crucial in education production functions to more accurately estimate the impact of its inputs.

Morgan Uveges

Advisor: Chuck Moul

Title: Life at the Border: The Effect of the Medicaid Expansion on Labor Market Outcomes

Abstract: The 2010 Affordable Care Act sought to expand health insurance coverage in the United States in part through an expansion of Medicaid to cover to low-income, able-bodied individuals without dependent children. In this paper, I employ a contiguous border-county approach to compare labor market outcomes in neighboring states with differing Medicaid Expansion statuses. Unlike existing state-level analyses of the Medicaid Expansion that find no significant impacts in the labor market and unlike an existing border-county study that finds only a transient decrease in employment one year after the Medicaid Expansion, I find a significant increase in unemployment per capita by 0.25 percentage points and in the unemployment rate by 0.64 percentage points. I also find insignificant decreases in measures of average hours worked per week, labor force participation, and employment.


Julia Bragg

Advisor: Advisor: Mark Tremblay

Surviving Survivor: How Alliances Persevere in Survivor”

Abstract: Survivor is often credited with launching the reality television fad of the 2000s and
remains a widely popular show today, yet very few empirical studies have focused on
this topic. This paper examines the factors affecting whether an alliance will stay
together or break apart. Our estimates show that a 10% increase in coalition size
increases the probability the coalition will stay together by 6.30%. In addition, a 10%
increase in a player’s voting history with players outside their coalition decreases the
probability the coalition will stay together by 6.12%. These results are robust to several
alternative specifications, including both linear and non-linear models, models that
separate contestants by age and gender, and models that focus on twists in the game.
Further, I conclude that these results can be generalized and applied to settings outside
of Survivor; for example, in workplace environments where coalitions may break apart
as workers progress up the employment ladder.

Joshua Brown

Advisors: George Davis, Gerald Granderson

What Makes a Good Coach? A Case for NBA Teams Playing up to Their Potentials”

Abstract: In this paper, we argue that using data from the playoffs when studying team performance is theoretically superior to using data from the regular season. We develop a measure of NBA playoff performance called the Playoffs Success Indicator (PSI) and apply it to a stochastic frontier production function in order to study (1) performance in the NBA playoffs, (2) how efficiently playoff teams perform given their current players, and (3) the characteristics of coaches that affect that efficiency. We find that, to be successful in the playoffs, the average team should strive to be more well-rounded rather than looking for one superstar. We also find that playoff efficiency is positively associated with the number of years a coach has been in the league and the number of wins he or she has accrued in the playoffs. Finally, we find that all playoff experience is not equal, and that a coach’s past playoff losses are actually negatively associated with playoff efficiency.

Sarah Frick

Advisor: Deborah Fletcher

Pirate & Chill: The Effect of Netflix on Illegal Streaming”

Abstract: This paper explores how intent to pirate movies is affected by the removal of movie content from the subscription streaming service, Netflix. On October 1st, 2015, Epix switched all of
its movie content from Netflix to Hulu representing an overall decrease in the legal streaming
availability of these movies. This switch was due to a contract issue and thus exogenous on
the individual movie level. Using a difference-in-difference approach, I compare the
difference in piracy searches before and after the Epix switch occurred for Epix movies (the
treatment group) and movies that remained on Netflix (the control group). Intent to pirate is
measured using the number of google searches for Watch movie title free online”. I find that
the removal of Epix movies from Netflix results in a 20-22% increase in intent to pirate those
movies, compared to movies that remained on Netflix, all else equal. This study contributes
to the understanding of the substitution between legal streaming services and movie piracy
and makes important implications for content owners deciding what platform to offer their
movie on.

Christopher Granquist

Advisor: Charles Moul

Multimarket Contact On Tacit Collusion: Evidence From The Airline Industry”

Abstract: This paper examines the effect of multimarket contact on tacit collusion using empirical
evidence from the airline industry. We replicate a model of multimarket contact applied
to price and apply it to price dispersion, and address potential endogeneity in our measure
of multimarket contact through fixed effects. We find three early results: (i) Increased
concentration in the U.S. airline industry has reduced the effect of multimarket contact on
prices, but the effect remains relatively strong and positive; (ii) The effect of multimarket
contact on price dispersion may have either a positive or negative effect based on specification;
(iii) First-stage regression results suggest that the percentage of gates owned by a carrier
or their low-cost competition at the destination airport on a route is a strong instrumental
variable for future extension.

Julia Mozdzen

Advisor: Mike Curme

Pick Your Poison: Are Drinking Consequences Related to Alcohol Beverage-Type?”

Abstract: Every year, over 1,500 college students die as a result of their alcohol consumption.
Prior literature has focused on the decision to drink and found that the quantity of beverages
consumed is directly linked to alcohol-related consequences. While college binge drinking rates
have been declining, concern over alcohol use has been increasing. This suggests quantity may
not be the only determinant of alcohol-related consequences, but perhaps, alcohol beverage type
is also a factor. In this paper, we examine an individual’s costs and benefits of consuming an
additional beverage, looking at which students are most likely to engage in high risk drinking
behavior and the degree to which quantity influences consequences. We then focus on beverage
type, looking at the correlates of a liquor preference and the relationship between regular or peak
hard alcohol and negative outcomes. We find significant associations between the consumption
of hard alcohol and consequences for both regular drinking occasions and on the peak drinking

Haley Mull

Advisor: Melissa Thomasson

Break A Leg- Just Not In Alabama: Analyzing The Timing Of Medicaid’s Adoption And State Variation In Medicaid Eligibility”

Abstract: Medicaid is a joint federal-state health insurance program targeting the low-income population. The program covers nearly 20% of all Americans and accounted for $592 billion in 2017. Medicaid was originally introduced in 1965 as an optional program without mandatory financial eligibility minimums. By 1982, all 50 states had established a program but at vastly different levels of eligibility. In this paper, I analyze the factors that impacted a state’s adoption of Medicaid and the factors affecting eligibility generosity for pregnant women, infants, children, and other adults. I find that politics and health environment factors were insignificant in explaining the adoption of Medicaid. However, with respect to eligibility, these same health environment and political factors become significant in explaining differential levels of eligibility generosity. Moreover, higher income states had an increased probability of having a Medicaid program in the following year and are more generous in their eligibility limits. In both models, demographic factors provide conflicting evidence to support the basic ideas of the Median Voter Theorem. Regression findings for adoption and eligibility generosity are generally robust across models. Finally, future work might examine eligibility generosity for other populations benefiting from Medicaid or apply the models to a variety of optional benefits.

Thuc Doan Nguyen

Advisor: Michael Lipsitz

Non-Compete Agreements and Compensation Structure in the
Technology Industry”

Abstract: Nearly half of technical professionals in the United States have been asked to sign non-compete agreements (NCAs). These agreements are legal covenants preventing employees from entering into markets or professions in direct competition with their former employer. Previous studies on NCA have only emphasized how its enforceability affects the size of compensation bundles as a whole. Given that technology firms are known for rewarding stock ownership besides bonus and base salary, I seek to assess the effect of varying degrees of NCA’s enforceability at different states on representation of each pay component in the overall pay structure in the tech industry. Analyzing detailed compensation data from a public Information Technology website, I found evidence that not only do total compensation and base salary reduce, but the percentage of compensation paid as bonus also decreases as a result of being subject to a stricter NCA enforcement regime. This paper also offers a way of looking at the two types of mobility constraints from a substitutes versus complements relationship and asserts that NCAs prevent workers from earning maximum wage as would happen in a competitive market.

Sarina Sangal

Advisor: Jing Li

Assessing the Economic Impact of Hong Kong’s 1997 Handover: A Synthetic
Control Approach”

Abstract: On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong’s sovereignty was transferred from the hands of the British government back to its previous owner, China. Current research about the economic impact of this transition is disputed, with some arguing that the 1997 Handover had no effect on Hong Kong’s economy and others finding a negative impact. This study serves to provide an analysis of the economic impact of Hong Kong’s transfer of sovereignty by employing the synthetic control method to create a counterfactual. The counterfactual was comprised of a weighted average of Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea. Using adjusted GDP per capita as the key outcome variable, find that the actual Hong Kong economy performed 5% worse than predicted by the synthetic control, indicating that the 1997 Handover had a negative effect on Hong Kong’s economy.

Sarah Siegel

Advisor: Gregory Niemesh

The Health Income Gradient In The Early 20th Century”

Abstract: The positive relationship between socioeconomic status and health has been observed and established across many fields. This paper has two goals: (1) find a relationship between health and income through child mortality rates in the 1900 and 1910 census and (2) check the omitted variable bias of the mother’s childhood socioeconomic status. Previous research has established the impact of different father’s occupations on the child mortality index and find a relationship between occupations that earn more and a lower child mortality rate. I construct a panel dataset that links mother’s back to their childhood household and tests whether there is an omitted variable bias with the mother’s childhood household socioeconomic status. I find that a one standard deviation increase in husband’s wealth is associated with a decrease in the child mortality rate of 2.03 deaths per 1000 children ever born and the mother’s childhood socioeconomic status plays a role in the child mortality rate with a one standard deviation increase their income is associated with a decrease in the child mortality rate of 1.36 deaths per 1000 children ever born. In general, I find that the omission of mother’s childhood socioeconomic status creates a slight omitted variable bias. Further work will try to improve the matching procedure to find enough sisters in the sample to run household fixed effects and improve the identification strategy.

Elizabeth Springer

Advisor: Prosper Raynold

The Impact of Religious Intensity on Terrorism”

Abstract: In this paper, we conduct an empirical analysis of the impact of religious intensity on terrorism through using panel data and a two-way fixed effects model. The data used in this study comes from the World Values Survey and the Global Terrorism Database from 38 different countries. We find that an increase in religious intensity leads to an increase in terrorist incidents. We also look at the difference between developing and developed countries and find that there is a positive effect of an increase in religious intensity on terrorism for developing countries, but no effects for developed countries. These parsed out effects are most likely due to the conditions of each type of country and that developed countries have conditions that Most of the effects found in this paper are significant, both statistically and in magnitude. Religious intensity, therefore, has an important role to play in the success of a terrorist organization.


Hannah Baney

Advisor: Prof. Bill Even

“The Gender Gap in Wealth: 1989-2016”

Abstract: Using data from the Survey of Consumer Finances, we attempt to estimate the gender gap in wealth, trends in the gap, and possible explanations for its occurrence. Multiple regression reveals that a gender gap does indeed exist, although it is difficult to define a clear trend in the gap over time. We find some evidence that the wealth gap may shrink during times of economic recession and grow during times of economic prosperity. Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition shows that a small portion of the gender gap between single men and women can be explained by differences in the characteristics of men and women- primarily work experience and risk aversion. However, a majority of the wealth gap remains unexplained.

Samantha Bossa

Advisor: Prof. Deborah Fletcher

“Impact of Direct Admissions into the Miami University Farmer School of Business on Student Incentives”

Abstract: Does a direct admissions policy with a secured spot for the student promote better performance than a non-direct admissions policy with a GPA requirement after two years?  To answer this question, we focus on the business core that all business students take at Miami. The data spans 2003 to 2015 cohorts, with the change to a full direct admissions policy occurring in the 2012 cohort.  This allows us to explore how course grades and students’ decisions of when and where to take the course differ over multiple admissions policies. The analysis shows significant changes between the policy periods overall.  Most notably, the average student GPA decreases with the switch to direct admissions, after controlling for ability. The effects seem to be concentrated in Managerial Accounting and Calculus 1. These effects differ when students are broken up into high and low ability groups as well as minority and non-minority.  Low ability students appear to benefit from the new policy, narrowing the gap between them and the high ability students, but minority students seem to be hurt by the new policy in that they have lower GPAs on average. 

Madison Cain

Advisor: Prof. John Bowblis

“Opioid Overdose Trends and the Impact of Treatment Center Admissions and Naloxone Drugs in Connecticut”

Abstract: Previous opioid-related research has focused on experimental trials involving opioid abusers, rather than looking at the outcomes of existing prevention programs on mortality rates. This study first examines the general trends stemming from the opioid crisis to determine how drug use has changed and which individuals have been primarily affected in Connecticut from 2012 to 2016. Next, by utilizing a town-year level panel dataset, I study the effects anti-overdose drug access has on opioid treatment center admissions, as well as the effects that opioid treatment center admissions and pharmacies that offer anti-overdose drugs have on the mortality rates in a given town. I find that increased naloxone availability is associated with a higher number of treatment center admissions, but that the number of opioid treatment center admissions and naloxone availability lack a significant impact on opioid overdose deaths.

Sumedha Chakravarti

Advisor: Prof. Gerald Granderson

“Crime and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): How a Specific State’s Attitude towards DACA Impacts its Crimes Rates”

Abstract: This paper analyzes how differences in states’ attitudes towards DACA impacts its crime rates. Most research finds no significant correlation between increased immigration and higher rates of crime, while other research finds that DACA implicitly leads to a decline in crime via increased high school graduation rates and better job opportunities for those on the program. I examined each state over an 11-year time period using a balanced panel to see how DACA policies impacted their crime rates. I mainly find that providing additional amenities to those on DACA has no significant correlation with a state’s crime rates. Additionally, accepting more people on DACA reduces the crime committed by younger people.

Kiley Duhn

Advisor: Prof. Chuck Moul

“Here Comes the Flood: The Effect of Natural Disasters on Economic Outcomes”

Abstract: The existing growth and investment literatures generally fail to achieve a consensus on the overall effect of catastrophic natural disasters on economic outcomes. Using natural disaster data ranging from 1970-2010 and measures for GDP, FDI, and their respective drivers, I implement the synthetic control method to construct comparative case studies for nine individual disaster scenarios. I find substantial evidence that natural disasters can have varying effects on GDP and FDI regardless of an affected country’s political climate, suggesting that the consequences of catastrophes are highly idiosyncratic and that a variety of macroeconomic factors can have an impact on short and long run outcomes in such affected countries.

Madi Gregory

Advisor: Prof. Greg Niemesh

“The Political Economy of Physician Licensing: The Adoption of Pre-Medical College Requirements”

Abstract: States began licensing physicians in the 1870s, ostensibly to control entry into an unrestricted medical field and protect the public from medical quacks. Despite these laws, physician supply continued to increase into the early 1900s. As medical education became more rigorous, and states began requiring medical schools to include a college prerequisite as part of their admission standards in the 1910s, physician supply began to decline. Using a hazard model, I analyze various political and economic characteristics at the state level to understand the relative importance of such factors in the timing of adoption of pre-medical college requirements. States with higher AMA membership and a larger number of physicians per capita, pass pre-medical licensure laws earlier than others. The evidence presented more-so aligns with the regulatory capture theory, whereas the public interest theory variables have little impact on the timing of passage of these laws.

Eashwar Nagaraj

Advisor: Prof. Greg Niemesh

“Are Skilled Immigrant Wage Premiums Countercyclical”

Abstract: Using a pooled cross section of Labor Condition Applications from 2002 to 2015 (N = 5:1 million), this paper aims to estimate the effects of exogenous labor demand shocks on wage differentials between high-skilled immigrants and their native colleagues in the US. Exploiting the Great Recession (2008-2009) as a natural experiment for a labor demand shock, I find that the mean wage premiums earned by potential H-1B visa holders decrease by 5 percent during the recession. Notably, the wage premiums earned by the highest earning immigrants exhibit countercyclical behavior, increasing by 3 to 4 percent when the national unemployment rate for college educated native workers increases by 1 percentage point. Results are robust to compositional changes. Firm heterogeneity possibly biases these results, which can be addressed using panel methods.

Sara Rosomoff

Advisor: Prof. Melissa Thomasson

“Promote the General Welfare: A Political Economy Analysis of Medicare & Medicaid”

Abstract: Medicare and Medicaid are U.S. federal health insurance programs established in 1965 as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. They provide coverage to the aged population (65+), low-income individuals, and to other subsets of the U.S. population. These programs were born out of 50 years of debate and failed attempts to pass national government-provided health care in the U.S. After reviewing the history of government-provided health insurance and the foundations of Medicare/Medicaid, I analyze the political economy of state and individual effects on Members of Congress’ vote choices on the 1965 Medicare/Medicaid law. I find evidence that the effects of number of doctors, size of hospitals, percentage of Black Americans, and public assistance expenditures per capita are strong predictors of vote choice. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest party alignment of constituencies and geographic region assisted in persuading Republicans in Northeastern, urban-concentrated, party-contested states to defect.

Matt Runser

Advisor: Prof. Austin Smith

“Athletic-Induced Absenteeism: The Effect of Scheduled Athletic Absences on Grade Point”

Abstract: Previous literature suggests that absences have a negative and significant effect on academic achievement. Prominent studies focus on primary school students and rely on instrumental variables to address endogeneity concerns. I resolve the endogeneity issue by examining absences created by pre-scheduled athletic traveling for a large sample of student athletes at the university level. Using an academic and travel dataset from Miami University across 2010 to 2017, I use student by season fixed effects to estimate the cost of absences in regards to grade point. I find there to be a negative and significant marginal effect on grade point for each absence. I also find this result to be greater in magnitude for students who are domestic minorities and for students who scored lower on the ACT. Furthermore, I find that athletic traveling has additional negative effects outside of the costs of absences.


Jack Fetick

Advisor: Prof. Melissa Thomasson

“Does a Legal ‘High’ Lead to Higher Rents? An Estimation of the Effects of Cultivation Laws on Colorado Industrial Property Values”

Abstract: This paper analyzes the effect of a change in the legal status of cannabis cultivation on the value of industrial space. An often-cited positive impact of legalization is the increase in tax revenue to the state, yet an increase in demand for warehouse-like spaces may crowd out other industries. I estimate the effect of municipalities exercising a “local option” to ban cannabis on the values of industrial spaces. The natural variation of the local option across the state is used to compare industrial space values across treated areas using a difference-in-differences design. Using data from real estate listing website LoopNet, this paper estimates a slightly higher difference in the value of industrial space in areas with legal cultivation status.

Jameson Foran

Advisor: Prof. John Bowblis

“Medicaid Expansion Implications on Health Insurance Coverage and Medical Out-of-Pocket Payments”

Abstract: As part of the Affordable Care Act, states had the ability to expand Medicaid coverage from 100% of the federal poverty line to 138%. I analyze whether this state voluntary Medicaid expansion increased Medicaid coverage without causing private insurance crowd-out. I also examine whether this expansion reduced medical out-of-pocket payments. I use a difference-in-differences estimator to compare states that expanded in early 2014 and states that chose not to expand their Medicaid coverage. I find that states that expanded saw a statistically significant increase of 4.6% points more Medicaid coverage, with no evidence of crowd-out, than non-expansion states. I also find that medical out-of-pocket payments decreased in expansion states.

Samuel Jerow

Advisor: Prof. Jonathan Wolff

“Uncertainty and Fiscal Policy”

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of economic uncertainty on the transmission of government spending shocks. Using a measure of uncertainty derived from the survey of professional forecasters, we construct state dependent output multipliers via the local projection method of Jorda (2005). We find that uncertainty amplifies multipliers on impact, but results in large and negative output responses at longer horizons. Data restrictions make point estimates noisy; a new dataset with a longer horizon is currently under construction.

Alex Lust

Advisor: Prof. Bill Even

“An Analysis of Efficiency in NBA Point Spread Markets”

Abstract: Over the past forty years, economists have worked to evaluate efficiency in professional and collegiate sports point spread markets. While some find efficiency, others find exploitable outcomes. This study incorporates new information regarding the markup charged by online sportsbooks, and applies a new econometric technique – the median regression – to evaluate NBA point spread markets. Using data from ten online sportsbooks, I evaluate efficiency using both median and ordinary least squares regressions. When inefficiencies are found, simulations are created to assess potential profitable outcomes. I incorporate strong tests for efficiency, and find profitable betting strategies, which are amplified given the presence of lower markups.

Tarah Mason

Advisor: Prof. Chuck Moul

“Stories Come Alive: The Impact of Movie Success on Theme Park Demand”

Abstract: While supplyside scope economies have been extensively explored, demand side scope economies have only recently begun to receive attention. To further the study of this subject, I investigate the case of demandside scope economies in movieproducing firms that also run theme parks. I empirically measure the impact of success in the movie market on theme park demand through two reducedform analyses, using attendance and ticket price as the dependent variables. I find statistically significant evidence that a movie studio’s box office performance increases attendance and ticket price at its theme parks, suggesting that firms with both movie studios and movierelated theme parks do enjoy scope economies of demand.

Tyler Schumacher

Advisor: Prof. Jacob Brindley

“Inequity-Averse Preferences in the Principal-Agent Framework”

Abstract: We examine a contracting relationship in the principal-agent framework with groupings of one principal and two agents, particularly employing the FehrSchmidt functional form to allow for inequity aversion. When imposing that there is no guilt parameter, we find significant evidence that the envy parameter (α) is statistically different from zero when we allow agents to reference other agents for payoff comparisons, but we find that the envy parameter is not significantly different from zero when allowing for an agent to reference the principal in payoff comparisons. These results are suggestive of a phenomenon wherein those under a contract relationship make “horizontal” payoff comparisons and are motivated to minimize inequity with respect to those in similar roles, but do not show such motivation when comparing “vertically” to those in roles different from them. If our results are indeed robust, this behavioral phenomenon could have implications on the nature of trends in wage dispersion explained at the level of motivation within individual contract negotiations.

Katie Wells

Advisor: Prof. Analisa Packham

“The Effects of Syringe Exchange Programs on HIV, AIDS, and Opioid Mortality Rates in the United States”

Abstract: Syringe exchange programs provide sterile syringes in exchange for used syringes to reduce the risk of spreading disease among injection drug users due to syringe sharing. Previous research observing individual clinics has found syringe exchange programs helped prevent the spread of HIV, reduced syringe sharing behavior, and did not lead to an increase in the amount of drugs used by current drug users or an increase in new drug users. This project investigates the effects of recent syringe exchange clinic openings on health outcomes related to injection drug use in the United States in the wake of the opioid epidemic. I estimate the changes in HIV diagnoses rates, AIDs diagnoses rates, and drug overdose mortality rates in counties with clinic openings ranging from 2003 to 2015 using the difference-in-difference method with counties without any program openings as the control group. I find a significant association between program openings and a higher overdose rate in some subsamples and a significant decrease in the rate of new HIV cases in high-poverty rural counties.

Jiayu Wu

Advisor: Prof. Nam Vu

“Stock Market Dispersion and International Business Cycle Dynamics”

Abstract: We find evidence that variations in international output growth and unemployment rate can be explained by lags of stock market dispersion across industries. Using a panel of 16 developed economies for over 20 years, our dynamic regression and panel VAR exercises show that lags of stock market dispersions precede increases in unemployment rate and decreases in industrial production growth. Our result provides international evidence for the sectoral shifts hypothesis, pioneered by Lilien (1982) and Davis (1987), that re-allocation of resources across industries can segue into periods of heightened unemployment in the short run.


Christopher Adams

Advisor: Prof. Jing Li

Can Risk Premium Explain the Uncovered Interest Parity Puzzle?”

Abstract: Fama (1984) suggests that the uncovered interest parity puzzle may be explained by the bias of omitting the unobserved risk premium. This paper applies the Hodrick- Prescott (HP) filter and band-pass (BP) filter to the composite error term in the uncovered interest rate parity, and directly estimates the risk premium as the slow-evolving trend component. We find evidence that the risk premium and interest differential are negatively correlated, but contrary to Fama (1984), that covariance is not less than negative variance of the interest differential.

Andrew Burnett

Advisor: Prof. Charles Moul

Come Shale Away: Estimating Short-run Supply Elasticity of Shale Natural Gas”

Abstract: The existing literature generally fails to reject that natural gas producers are perfectly inelastic in the short-run, consistent with common conservationist concerns regarding nonrenewable resources. To investigate if there is evidence of such perfectly inelastic behavior in the case of shale natural gas, I develop a model for the short-run own-price elasticity of supply for natural gas from unconventional shale reservoirs. I find statistically significant elasticity estimates with respect to both the Henry Hub Spot Price (0.14) and Henry Hub One-month Futures Contract (-0.13), suggesting that production of shale gas is at least somewhat responsive to present and future market conditions.

Jackie Craig

Advisor: Prof. Gregory Niemesh

Intergenerational Mobility of Men and Women 1880-1910”

Abstract: Previous research shows a notably higher degree of economic mobility for men in the 19th century in comparison to today, but lacks an estimate for women. I study intergenerational income mobility of both men and women during the end of the 19th century to the early 20th century, providing the first direct estimate for female mobility during this time period. Using a set of marriage certificates from Massachusetts over the period of 1880-1910, men and women are linked to their 1880 and 1910 census records to obtain a measure of occupational standing for two generations. I measure intergenerational mobility for men by regressing the son's occupational income score on that of the father. Due to the absence of women in the workforce during this time period, intergenerational mobility for women is measured by the correlation in husband's occupational income score and the wife's father's occupational income score. The intergenerational elasticity of income for women is lower than for men, meaning that mobility for women is higher than mobility for men during this time period. I additionally find that internal migrants and children of immigrants have higher mobility levels. First born children and individuals with a smaller family size have lower mobility. I find an overall higher mobility level during this time period as compared with the modern period, which is consistent with previous literature.

Harrison Fox

Advisor: Prof. John Bowblis

Does Variation in the Nursing Home Inspection Process Explain Disparity in Regulatory Outcomes?”

Abstract: This study addresses the variation in nursing home inspection teams and its effect on minority disparity in regulatory outcomes at facilities. It first addresses how team size varies for nursing homes with different minority concentrations. This study then looks at how reported disparities in nursing home quality changes when accounting for variations in inspection team. Consequently, this paper finds that inspection teams grow as a nursing home increases in minority concentration. Likewise, disparities in regulatory outcomes persist even in the presence of larger teams, but it is not as large as previous studies have suggested.

Brandon Miller

Advisors: Profs. James Brock and Charles Moul

Gouging in the Midwest? An Analysis of the Propane Market”

Abstract: The Midwestern United States in the winter of 2013-14 experienced a 42% increase in the price of propane from the previous year’s winter. I explore whether this increase may have been partially attributable to firms opportunistically exporting to Japan. After developing a novel theoretical competitive model of supply, I use instrumental variables to estimate supply and demand for the Midwestern propane market. I then perform a residual analysis that strongly suggests that competitive market factors are most likely the cause of the increase in prices rather than any power exerted on the market by producers.

Steve Ramos

Advisor: Prof. Charles Moul

Aid and Honor: The Impact of Financial Constraints on Student Performance, Retention, and Degree Attainment”

Abstract: The high expense of college introduces the possibility that financial constraints may affect outcomes through mechanisms such as time spent at jobs and the stress of student debt. Using data on Miami University's Fall 2005 through Fall 2010 entering cohorts, I look at the impact of these financial constraints on academic performance, retention to the second year, and college completion. I find that a students' level of financial need, without conditioning on financial aid, is associated with a decrease in student outcomes. To isolate the impact of financial constraints, I implement a difference-in-differences strategy, but results are imprecise. I conclude that there is no clear evidence that financial constraints impact academic performance, completion, and retention.


Bethany Corbett

Advisor: Prof. Melissa Thomasson

The Calm Before the Economic Storm: A Study of the Impacts of Macroeconomic Shocks on the Mental Health of Young Adults

Abstract: This paper examines the effects of business cycle fluctuations on the mental health of teenagers and young adults during the period from 2000 to 2010, which includes the most significant economic downturn in United States history since the Great Depression. Using self-reported survey data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 (NLSY97), this study expands upon the scarce literature relating mental health to macroeconomic shocks by considering only a subset of the population often overlooked in previous studies, young adults. This paper uses a fixed-effect model and controls for other factors that may be related to mental health outcomes aside from the state unemployment rate to reach its conclusion. This study of a young adult sub-sample is consistent with others before it that use adult samples in that as state unemployment rate rises by one percent, people report feeling two percent less calm.

Chris Curme

Advisor: Prof. William Even

Same-Sex, Different Response to Marriage: Does Legal Marriage Matter for Same-Sex Couples in the United States?

Abstract: This thesis addresses the significance of marriage to same-sex cohabitating couples in the United States, 2012-2014, using data from the American Community Survey. We first consider differences in marriage rates between opposite- and same-sex couples and to what extent differences in the probability of marriage between opposite- and same-sex couples decrease when controlling for a couple's degree of access to marriage. The analysis is repeated by age group, considering the benefits of legal marriage at different life stages. We then note same-sex couples are less likely to specialize, have a lower probability of homeownership, and have fewer children than opposite-sex couples. We attempt to answer to what extent these differences are attributable to differences in marriage rates rather than differences in other endowments or behavior through a series of Oaxaca decompositions. We then estimate the effect of marriage, all else equal, on the three household decision variables separately for opposite- and same-sex couples to isolate differences in behavior. Lastly, we compare same-sex marriage effects in states that do and those that do not recognize same-sex marriage and attempt to confront the selection bias embedded in our estimated marriage effects. We claim that smaller marriage effects among same-sex couples may reflect that many had adjusted to their prior lack of access to marriage.

Derek Hoodin

Advisor: Prof. John Bowblis

Reinvesting in Quality or Stuffing Shareholders’ Pockets: How Does Providing Care to More Post-Acute Care Patients Impact Quality and Profitability of Nursing Homes?

Abstract: Nursing homes rely on Medicare, Medicaid, and private-pay patients to cover the cost of the care they provide. During times of economic hardship, state revenue falls and states will often cut Medicaid reimbursement in response to budget shortfalls. In response, many nursing homes have recently turned to higher reimbursed post-acute care patients to increase profitability. Using panel data from 2001 to 2010, this study examines how increased post-acute care patients impact nursing home financial performance, and whether higher earnings from these patients translate into better quality of care. Results show that increased post-acute care is associated with a statistically significant increase in two measures of financial performance. However, results do not show any clear improvement in quality of care as measured by patient health outcomes or increased nurse staff levels. This suggests that nursing homes may be keeping revenue from serving post-acute care patients as shareholder profit.

Brian Jong

Advisor: Prof. Jing Li

An Examination of the NAIRU for Subgroups of the Civilian Population (1948-2015)

Abstract: This paper examines the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment (NAIRU) for subgroups of the civilian population between 1948 and 2015. The subgroups that are considered in this study are gender, age, race and job type. The Hodrick-Prescott filter is used to estimate a trend for the NAIRU for each of these subgroups. There are four main findings. First, the NAIRU for each of the subgroups traced a hump-shaped path between 1960 and 2000, similar to that of the overall civilian population. Second, the NAIRU for women fell dramatically in the 1980s. Third, the NAIRUs for younger workers and black people were consistently higher than for older workers and white people respectively from 1948 to 2015. Finally, the NAIRU for part-time workers was significantly higher than full-time workers prior to the 1980s, but fell drastically in 2000. This paper also performs vector auto regressions to evaluate the dynamic interactions between the NAIRUs for the each of the subgroups.

Rebecca Jorgensen

Advisors: Profs. Deborah Fletcher and Charles Moul

Moving ‘Pabst’ the Protests: Was Act 10 Necessary Monopoly Regulation or Political Union-Busting?

Abstract: Wisconsin's 2011 Act 10 eliminated the majority of collective bargaining rights for nearly all public sector employees including teachers. I look at the effect that this policy had on teacher compensation and find that the law decreased total compensation, salary, retirement, and health insurance expenditures uniformly across the state. This study also finds evidence of districts paying smaller percentages of health insurance premiums and selecting less expensive insurance plans. I conclude by examining Act 10's impact on the number of teachers employed. Because no economically significant change in the number of per capita teachers is found, I conclude that the teachers' union was previously able to capture monopoly rents and that Act 10's price ceiling was too severe to generate the efficient outcome or even improve welfare.

Kelsey O’Flaherty

Advisor: Prof. Gregory Niemesh

The Causal Impact of Income Inequality on Fertility: Evidence from the 20th Century United States

Abstract: Fertility acts as the prevailing mechanism in the literature to explain the negative relationship between income inequality and economic growth. However, the first-order relationship between inequality and fertility has received little attention. Existing studies analyze countries in cross-section and arrive at mixed conclusions. In contrast, we use local economies in the United States to estimate the impact of inequality on fertility during a period of substantial compression and then widening of the income distribution. Our findings suggest that during the period of 1940 to 1990 a one standard deviation increase in local inequality led to a 13 percent increase in aggregate fertility, which is consistent with predictions of the Becker and Barro family size model.


Benjamin Blemings

Advisor: Prof. William Even

“Are Alcohol Sales at College Football Games Incident-Neutral?”

Abstract: I estimate how allowing alcohol sales at college football games affects the number of a variety of crimes using Ordinary Least Squares with university and time fixed effects. I find that allowing alcohol sales decreases DUIs, drunkenness, and assaults. Two possible explanations for these effects, I conclude, are that fans intertemporally substitute and/or skirt the ban by sneaking alcohol into the game.

Anissa Khan

Advisor: Prof. William Even

“Minimum Wage Effects on Drug Arrests”

Abstract: The primary purpose of this study is to analyze the effect that the minimum wage has on the rate of drug related arrests in the United States. Using arrest counts as a proxy for the level of crime, this study expands and updates the sparse existing literature on crime and the minimum wage. The study uses a Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) panel data set that spans the years 1990 to 2012 and uses a fixed effects model to reach its conclusion. The study finds that an increase in the minimum wage leads to increased violent, property, drug sale, and drug possession arrests in states with a higher than average percentage of high school dropouts and a reduced rate of arrests in states with a lower than average percentage of high school dropouts.

Jason Milliken

Advisor: Prof. Gregory Niemesh

“Long Term Effects of Early Life Malnourishment: The Bengal Famine of 1943”

Abstract: This paper examines the Bengal Famine of 1943 to explore the long run effects of severe malnutrition for those in the gestation period through one to two years of age. Although the famine was most severe and had the highest mortality in the province of West Bengal, much of India suffered during the roughly two year stretch of the famine. Regression equations utilize the variation in famine severity throughout India to estimate outcomes of people born during the famine. Our prediction is that being born into a province that relied on imports during the famine, which includes West Bengal, would result in later life outcomes worse than exporting states. We find evidence consistent with long-term impacts of famine conditions on literacy and employment outcomes. Considering a significant number of people in Bengal died during the famine, there may also be a positive bias from a culling effect.

Tam Pham

Advisor: Prof. Gerald Granderson

“The Effect of Minimum Wage on U.S. Labor Productivity 1997-2013: The Higher, The Better?”

Abstract: Economists have analyzed the effects of minimum wage policy on the economy in terms of employment and human capital accumulation over the past decades, and have found different answers. I am using 1997-2013 state-level panel data combined in a fixed- effect (FE) model to estimate the effect of raising minimum wage rate on labor productivity. The study concludes the impact on minimum wage on labour productivity is statistically significant different depending on the proportion of minimum wage workers that state employs, and it is increasing with a share of number of minimum wage workers. Evaluate at the sample mean of 4.2 percent of workers affected by minimum wage policy, FE predicts one percent increases in minimum wage causes a 0.04 percent increase in the level of output-per-worker, but only 0.03 percent increase in the level of output-per-hour.

Chengjun Shi

Advisor: Prof. Jing Li

“Does Exchange Rate Really Matter? A Closer Look at US Trade Deficits with China and Germany”

Abstract: Starting from 2005, China has been lowering the exchange rate from 8.3 Yuan/Dollar to 6.2 Yuan/Dollar to respond the big pressure from the US. However, reevaluating Yuan did not help improve the persistent trade deficit between China and the US. While several studies have investigated the impact of the exchange rate on the trade deficit, the results are mixed. In this paper, I adopt the Autoregressive Distributed Lag identification and include Germany as a control group to examine the impacts of the exchange rate on the trade deficit. I find that there are weak evidence in relation between the exchange rate and the trade deficit for both China and Germany cases. The US real GDP plays an essential role on solving the trade deficit problem.

David Whalen

Advisor: Prof. Deborah Fletcher

“Much Ado About Nothing: How Much Do the Oscars Actually Matter?”

Abstract: This paper explores the effect Oscar nominations and awards have on box office-revenue. Nominations for Best Actor and Actress increase weekly revenue and extend the theatrical life of a film. A nomination for Best Screenplay increases weekly revenue but does not extend the theatrical life. Nominations for these three awards are worth over $10 million each. A Best Picture nomination decreases weekly revenue, but increases theatrical life, resulting in a net increase of only about $300,000. Winning an award in any of the categories is generally not found to have any additional benefit above the nomination effect.

John York

Advisor: Prof. Charles Moul

“Does Effort Hurt? Evidence from International Soccer”

Abstract: This paper examines whether and how soccer teams in international tournaments choose their effort levels in a non-strategic situation. After considering various simple tests of observed variables, I utilize a costly-effort model to infer effort levels in the group stage during which teams may face different incentives regarding game outcomes. Essentially this paper attempts to model an unobservable endogenous variable, similar to how economists have inferred marginal costs in profit maximizing firms.


Janet Gannon

Advisor: Prof. Deborah Fletcher

“Today’s Business Cycle and Tomorrow’s Human Capital: How do unemployment rates impact college enrollment?”

Abstract: This paper uses data from the Current Populations Survey for 1995-2010 to study the countercyclical nature of college enrollment in the United States. By expanding on past studies to include observations for 18-50 year olds without a college degree, I can more carefully explore the effects of the business cycle on college enrollment by age group. I find that overall undergraduate enrollment is countercyclical for all ages. Additionally, when unemployment rates increase, individuals 18-24 and 35-45 are most drawn to full-time enrollment to build personal capital; however, those 46 and older appear to view part-time enrollment as a complement to employment as economic conditions worsen.

Adam Motley

Advisor: Prof. John Bowblis

“Shoot to Thrill, but Not to Win: An analysis of NBA player performance and pay”

Abstract: As the professional sports industry grows, so does interest in the player valuation techniques used to monitor how players’ contribution to their respective teams compare to salaries. This study improves on previous methods by using a multi-step approach applied to the NBA using data from the 2008/9 to the 2011/12 seasons. First, performance metrics are analyzed to empirically determine how a player’s performance contributes to a win, and subsequently the additional wins a player provides to his team. Second, we determine how these additional wins translate into salary. Finally, actual player salaries are compared to predicted salaries based on a player’s contribution to additional wins. We find that a player’s impact on team wins is dependent largely on having a well-balanced game, and conversely that one-dimensional “pure shooters” tend to be much less effective at positively influencing game outcomes. We find that the players estimated to be overpaid by our analysis are highly paid players who impact their team’s productivity very little, if at all; and those players that are underpaid are rising talent and well-balanced rotation players.

Paul Niekamp

Advisor: Prof. William Even

“Bakken out of Education to Toil in Oil”

Abstract: Human capital theory suggests that individuals will alter educational attainment decisions when the return to education changes. Using data from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI), we analyze the impact of the North Dakota (ND) oil boom on high school graduation rates and postgraduation plans. We reveal that the boom increased the wages and employment of lower skilled workers relative to higher skilled workers. Adolescents have responded by decreasing college enrollment rates, decreasing military enrollment rates, and entering the workforce. They have not, however, responded by dropping out of high school.

Kelsey Skvoretz

Advisor; Prof. Melissa Thomasson

“Weighing in on the Effectiveness of State Laws on Childhood Obesity: Fat Chance!”

Abstract: Widespread obesity continues to have increasingly detrimental effects, starting as early as childhood. One solution to preventing obese children from becoming obese adults and thereby lessening many health, social, financial, and professional consequences is to impose stipulations on school nutrition and physical education (P.E.). Using a difference-in-difference approach, I examine the effects that various state laws on vending machines, competitive foods, and physical activity have on a child’s physique. I find that laws on à la carte snacks and entrées, vending machine snacks, and advertising of foods within schools are correlated with lower Body Mass Index (BMI)3, yet no evidence supports the effectiveness of other laws such as those mandating the frequency of P.E. or the licensure requirements of food service staff.

Michael Sotak

Advisor: Prof. Charles Moul

“Ally or Antagonist? Banking and Antebellum American Agriculture”

Abstract: Despite the economic advantages of incorporating a new innovation into a society, there is often a delay between the invention and adoption of the technology. This is especially evident with agricultural innovations in the 1800s. One of the possible delays to an innovation’s adoption is credit availability. This paper will look at antebellum farming and bank data in the Midwest to explain the value that banks and financial depth provide to the adoption of a new technology. I will show that banks allow cash-constrained farmers to adopt the new technology, speeding its incorporation into our society. My results will also show a downside to the presence of banks, namely that increased financial leverage magnifies losses from a negative economic shock.

Benjamin Taylor

Advisor: Prof. Jing Li

“Do Fewer Guns Lead to Less Crime? Evidence from Australia”

Abstract: The 1996 National Firearms Agreement (NFA) in Australia introduced strict gun control laws and facilitated the buyback of over 650,000 firearms. While several re searchers have studied the effect of the NFA on firearm deaths, none has looked at its impact on crime. In this paper we use seeming unrelated regressions of various crime rates across the eight Australian states to study the impacts of the NFA. Our results indicate that the NFA decreased armed robbery rates, but had no significant effects on attempted murder, sexual assault, or unarmed robbery rates.


Xin Chen

Advisor: Prof. Charles Moul

“What Causes Unbalanced Growth? Baumol’s Costs Disease vs. Wealth Effects”

Abstract: “Baumol's Cost Disease” has been well known and intensively discussed since Baumol and Bowen proposed it in 1966. It predicts that costs in service sectors rise compared to manufacturing sectors due to their wages increasing in excess of productivity growth. While an appealing theory, relatively few empirical tests have been conducted of it with respect to labor costs in health care and education. In this paper, I use panel data from health care and education sectors from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the International Labor Organization to test a core Baumol assumption. Furthermore, I use U.S. teachers per thousand students and adjusted annual occupational total annual working hours in the U.S. health care sector to study the equilibrium quantity of stagnant sectors in order to determine if there is an alternative explanation of the rising service costs. The results show robust evidence in favor of Baumol's assumption and his explanation of rising costs in service sector.

Benjamin Heebsh

Advisor: Prof. John Bowblis

“Collateral Damage: Effects of Parents’ Unemployment on Children’s Well-Being in the United States”

Abstract: Unemployment’s effects on well-being have been studied extensively by economists. Utilizing United States data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and Child Development Supplement on parents and children ages 12-17, I examine the effects of parents’ unemployment on their children’s subjective well-being. I find parents’ unemployment is likely negatively related to their children’s well-being, but the model used does not produce statistically significant results, most likely due to small sample size. In addition, I find having a parent permanently disabled decreases children’s well-being.

Kaitlin Patzek

Advisor: Prof. Jing Li

“Marriage and the Great Recession”

Abstract: The 2007-2009 Great Recession represented major economic hardship for many U.S. businesses and families. This paper examines the relationship and possible effects of the unemployment rate, a key measure of economic health, on the frequency of marriages and divorces during the Great Recession. Previous literature reports that significant economic impacts correlate with marriage and divorce rates in the same direction; a good economy is associated with an increase in marriage and divorce frequency. However, more mild recessions and normal business cycles are not associated with significant impacts on marriage and divorce. To determine the Great Recession’s significance, the unemployment rate combined with recently reported marriage and divorce figures were examined to assess this relationship and possible effects. As expected, the Great Recession negatively affected the frequency of new marriages and divorces. There is an exception where the Great Recession had a relatively mild impact. In certain areas, the effect of the Great Recession on marriage and divorce is strikingly similar.

Adam Walker

Advisor: Prof. Melissa Thomasson

“(General) Practice Makes Perfect: Identifying the Key Drivers of Medical Specialization”

Abstract: This paper analyzes drivers of medical specialization by utilizing historical data from the early 1900’s. Probit regressions are used to test a variety of specialty choice theories, including the influence of competition, urbanization, and medical school quality on physician career decisions. Increased area competition between physicians is found to have a positive effect on the likelihood of specialization. Higher quality medical education is associated with a small rise in specialty careers, while the degree of urbanization in a practice area is found to have little significant effect on physician job choices.


Jake del Valle

Advisor: Prof. Charles Moul

“Influence of the Dating Market on Reproductive Choices”

Abstract: This paper analyzes fertility decisions, the abortion and conception rate, made by females based on the effects of the dating market at the county level. The variable of importance, the sex ratio or the number of males per single female in a given county, affects males’ marry or flee decision after pregnancy based on their potential prospects in the dating market. Females, factoring in the decision of said male, focus on birthing decision; either keeping or aborting the pregnancy. The sex ratio negatively impacts the abortion rate, but not the conception rate; as the sex ratio raises, the abortion rate declines. Further analysis reveals that abortions are a normal good for the lower 85th percentile of the sex ratio, but an inferior good for the top 15th percentile when per capita income is held constant. This relationship has not been discussed in previous papers, but is necessary for future explorations into abortion determinants.

Clark Johns

Advisor: Prof. John Bowblis

“The Effect of Background Check Type on Crime Rates”

Farmer School of Business Department of Economics

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