Three Essays in Applied Microeconomics Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Li, Chunxiao
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics
  • This dissertation is comprised of three independent chapters. The first chapter studies the effectiveness and consequences of exclusionary school discipline. Exclusionary school discipline techniques, such as out-of-school suspension, are often criticized for their inability to improve students' behavior, their adverse effects on students' achievement outcomes and their disproportionate use on minority students. Using large-scale administrative data on North Carolina public school students, I find that harsher disciplinary rules (measured by higher out-of-school suspension likelihood) significantly deter students from committing first offenses, but that they are less effective (or ineffective) for repeat offenses. I also find that their adverse effects on offending students' achievement outcomes, such as end-of-grade test scores and high school dropout probability, are much smaller than the effects documented in the existing literature. In addition, I find that harsher disciplinary rules could significantly improve the academic achievement of middle school students with no offense record. To carefully address endogeneity and selection issues in a large-scale data context, my preferred identification strategy combines the instrumental variable method and a machine learning cluster method (k-means). These findings suggest that current policy reform of exclusionary school discipline should carefully balance its benefits and costs for different student populations. The second chapter explores the equity in exclusionary school discipline between black and white students and among students from families with different economic backgrounds. The existing literature and popular press report that black students face out-of-school suspension with much greater frequency than white students. Using administrative data on North Carolina public school students over eight academic years, I find that the racial disparity depends importantly on the type of offenses when black and white students are compared within the same school. While black students are more likely to be suspended, for example, for fighting, theft and sexual harassment, white students are more likely to be suspended for insubordination, disrespect toward faculty, or leaving class without permission. I also find that Economically Disadvantaged students are consistently more likely to be suspended out-of-school for different types of offenses, even if the comparison is within schools. The third chapter studies the impacts of social contacts, such as spouses, friends, siblings, parents or children on individual smoking behavior. To identify endogenous social interaction effects, we model an individual and her social contacts' smoking behaviors as a simultaneous move game with complete information. We also allow an individual's smoking behavior to depend on her previous behavior and unobserved heterogeneity. Using unique data from the Framingham Heart Study, which includes complementary social network data, we find statistically significant endogenous social interaction effects of spouses and friends on individual smoking behavior. We also find that endogenous social interaction effects from siblings or parents are not statistically significant after disentangling them from homophily. In addition, we find that the effects of social contacts' cardiovascular disease shocks on individual smoking behavior are not statistically significant.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Verdier, Valentin
  • Guilkey, David
  • Gilleskie, Donna B.
  • Kim, Ju Hyun
  • Tauchen, Helen
  • Fruehwirth, Jane
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2017

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