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Essays on Public Economics

LeGower, Michael (2014) Essays on Public Economics. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation covers a number of topics in public economics, specifically dealing with program evaluation and the private provision of public goods. The first chapter deals with the evaluation of a prominent federal policy: the Federal Healthy Marriage initiative. This program funded organizations at the community level, enabling the provision of relationship and marriage education in an effort to promote and sustain marriages. I identify the impact of funding on marriage and divorce, considering the possibility of heterogeneous treatment effects across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. I find that increased funding reduces the likelihood of marriage while also decreasing the likelihood of divorce amongst certain groups. In the second chapter, Randall Walsh and I evaluate a series of high-profile programs known as "Promise scholarships" in which private organizations guarantee money towards the costs of attendance at selected colleges and universities provided that a student has resided and attended school within a particular public school district continuously for at least the four years prior to graduation. Our estimates indicate that K-12 public school enrollments increase in Promise zones relative to their surrounding areas following Promise announcements, schools associated with merit-based programs experience increases in white enrollment and decreases in non-white enrollment. Furthermore, housing prices increase following announcement, with the largest effects in neighborhoods with high quality schools in the upper half of the housing price distribution. These patterns lead us to conclude that such scholarships are primarily affecting the behavior of high-income households and that merit-based versions disproportionately impact white households. Finally, in the third chapter I examine the incentives for private firms, such as those sponsoring Promise scholarships, to participate in the production of public goods, specifically through sponsoring fundraising lotteries and raffles. I develop a model where firms have advertising incentives to contribute to public causes, deriving predictions about public goods production under various plausible advertising allocation mechanisms including exclusive sponsorships. I test these predictions in a laboratory experiment ultimately finding that, while exclusivity is sometimes beneficial in the theoretical environment, non-exclusive arrangements unambiguously generate more revenue for the public good empirically.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
LeGower, Michaelmjl88@pitt.eduMJL88
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairDuffy, Johnjduffy@pitt.eduJDUFFY
Committee CoChairWalsh, Randallwalshr@pitt.eduWALSHR
Committee MemberVesterlund, Lisevester@pitt.eduVESTER
Committee MemberTroesken, Wernertroesken@pitt.eduTROESKEN
Committee MemberLinardi, Seralinardi@pitt.eduLINARDI
Date: 24 September 2014
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 10 May 2014
Approval Date: 24 September 2014
Submission Date: 2 May 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 191
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: marriage, divorce, scholarships, financial aid, policy, public goods, lottery
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2014 13:47
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:19


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