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Essays on Health and Labor Policies

Liu, Siying (2017) Essays on Health and Labor Policies. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation consists of three papers on health economics and labor economics.

The first chapter investigates how workplace breastfeeding laws that require firms to provide a lactation room in the workplace affect the labor market outcomes of mothers of infants. Summers (1989) predicts that such mandated benefits depress the demand for mothers of infants and increase their supply and, thus, depress wages. However, I argue that such mandated benefits can increase both the demand for and the wages of mothers of infants who have a strong propensity to increase their work attachment. I exploit the plausibly exogenous variation in the timing of state mandates on workplace lactation support, analyzing data in the National Immunization Survey and the Current Population Survey.

The second chapter investigates changes in the usage or preventive services among the Medicare beneficiaries following the Affordable Care Act's "Medicare Preventive Benefits" reform, which eliminates cost-sharing for Medicare-covered preventive services that are recommended (rated A or B) by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Following intuition in Chetty et al. (2013) that individuals with no knowledge of certain policies behave as they would in the absence of the policy, I identify the impact of the reform by comparing the usage of all Medicare-covered preventive services across regions with different levels of knowledge of the reform. Exploiting the sample of beneficiaries that move across HRRs, I find that the knowledge of the reform is driven by the demand side factors rather than the supply side factors.

The third chapter investigates the causal impact of physician counseling on obesity, exploiting the eligibility criterion of the Medicare's Intensive Behavioral Therapy (IBT) for Obesity program, using a fuzzy Regression Discontinuity (RD) approach. I using the 5% random sample of the Medicare historical claim data and I inventively collect the BMI information using the ICD-9 diagnosis codes. I find that the intensive behavioral therapy is not effective in reducing obesity, and we are able to rule out confounding factors such as the use of bariatric procedures, massages, psychological therapy, smoking counseling, and the diagnoses of chronic conditions.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Liu, Siyingsil18@pitt.edusil18
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBerkowitz, Danieldmberk@pitt.edudmberk
Committee MemberCoen-Pirani, Danielecoen@pitt.educoen
Committee MemberDriessen, Juliadriessen@pitt.edudriessen
Committee MemberTroesken, Wernertroesken@pitt.edutroesken
Date: 28 June 2017
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 March 2017
Approval Date: 28 June 2017
Submission Date: 1 March 2017
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 229
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: breastfeeding, labor market outcomes, preventive services, obesity, Medicare, mandated benefits
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2017 20:34
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2017 20:34


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