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Essays in Empirical Labor Economics

Lennon, Conor (2016) Essays in Empirical Labor Economics. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation focuses on furthering our understanding of how labor markets work. Each essay sheds light on how individual, governmental, and institutional factors combine to determine economic outcomes within specific labor markets. The first chapter uses the Affordable Care Act's employer mandate to ask if variation in health expenses at the individual level can affect labor market outcomes. Using a difference-in-difference estimation strategy the essay shows that higher cost workers face lower wages and increased unemployment as a result of the employer mandate. Specifically, each dollar of annual medical expenses is associated with a $0.30 to $0.40 wage penalty. The negative changes in labor market outcomes for higher cost workers highlight that firms face the same incentives as an insurer to limit access and price discriminate.

The second chapter focuses on why antebellum slave prices were higher in the deep South. Existing research suggests price differences were due to productivity differences. This essay shows that the chance of escape was a complementary source of price differences. To do so, the paper examines the consequences of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. The Act was designed to reduce the chance of successful escape and the paper shows it caused slave prices in northern slave states to increase by between 15 and 30 percent relative to the deeper South. In 1854, reinstated loopholes reverse the effects of the Act. These findings are backed up by advertisements for runaways collected from antebellum newspapers.

The third chapter uses a correspondence study to examine how employers view degrees earned online. Many major universities in the US have online programs that claim to be comparable to a traditional degree. The essay uses fictional resumes to apply for real jobs but randomly varies the degree held. Estimates suggest employers do not value these programs equally: After controlling for co-variates a traditional degree-holder is twice as likely to be called for interview compared to an individual with an online degree.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lennon, Conorcjl55@pitt.eduCJL55
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTroesken, Wernertroesken@pitt.eduTROESKEN
Committee MemberBerkowitz, Danieldmberk@pitt.eduDMBERK
Committee MemberCoen-Pirani, Danielecoen@pitt.eduCOEN
Committee MemberZhang, Yutingytzhang@pitt.eduYTZHANG
Committee MemberKoyama,
Date: 30 September 2016
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 5 May 2016
Approval Date: 30 September 2016
Submission Date: 16 April 2016
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 140
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: Lennon, dissertation, Economics
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2016 19:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:32


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