Essays on Health and Public Economics
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This dissertation introduces three essays on health and public economics. In the first essay, I reexamine how false ID laws with scanner provisions affect underage drinking. Yoruk uses data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 and finds that false ID laws with scanner provisions have large impacts on underage drinking. I first demonstrate that analyses based on NLSY97 data fail falsification exercises testing for significant pre-intervention effects, and that the estimated effects based on these data are highly sensitive to the inclusion of a lead term and to sample selection, which weakens confidence in the large estimated effects reported in the previous literature. I then use data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System for the analysis and show that estimates based on these data indicate that these policies have no effect on underage drinking behavior. In the second essay, I take advantage of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process to analyze the effect of government spending on local economic conditions. Exploiting variation in the timing and amount of construction funding provided across counties, my analyses yield an estimated cost per job of $65,000 per year and a local fiscal multiplier of 1.21. Analyses of neighboring counties show little evidence of spillover effects. To further explore the mechanisms underlying these results, I investigate the effects of government spending on migration and show that the funding has positive effects on in-migration, but these effects are too small to explain the main results. In the final essay, we examine how childbearing responds to changes in economic conditions. We exploit variation driven by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process, in which $25 billion of construction funding was distributed across the United States in different amounts and at different points in time. We show that this stimulus improved men’s—but not women’s—economic conditions, providing a rare opportunity to assess different theoretical models of childbearing. We find that the stimulus led to significant increases in birth rates. These results are consistent with models in which child quantity is a normal good and women’s foregone earnings are a major component of the costs of having children.
Zheng, Yiying (2017). Essays on Health and Public Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from