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An Essay on Topics in Applied Microeconomics
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This dissertation examines three topics in the field of applied microeconomics using quasi-experimental methods. In the section entitled “Does Being Tracked with Better Peers Matter?: Regression Discontinuity Evidence”, I study a popular education policy of tracking students into classrooms. Although tracking is widely used around the world, relatively few papers directly identify the impact of being tracked into classrooms with higher- or lower-ability peers on student achievement. Using administrative data from Thai middle schools with a regression discontinuity design, I show that being tracked into classrooms with higher-ability students alone does not lead to significant increases in student achievement. In the section entitled “The Impact of Misinformation: Evidence from the Anti-Vaccination Movement in the US”, I study the effects of misinformation about vaccination, which is an important public health tool. Specifically, I examine whether the dissemination of false information about the MMR vaccine changed people’s immunization behavior. Using a difference-in-differences approach with individual-level vaccination records from the National Immunization Surveys, I estimate that the rise in misinformation about the MMR vaccine caused the MMR vaccine take-up rates at 15 and 29 months old to decrease by 3.3 and 4.1 percentage points, respectively. In the section entitled “An Empirical Test of Anti-Muslim Bias: Evidence from Property Values”, we propose a test for anti-Muslim bias by asking whether the introduction of a mosque in a neighborhood reduces property values. To do so, we link administrative data on property sales prices in Michigan to the opening dates of new mosques. We then compare sales prices over time for properties closer and farther away from newly-opened mosques. Results indicate no evidence of anti-Muslim bias. Estimates from repeat-sales specifications indicate the introduction of mosques to a neighborhood does not depress property prices.
Tangvatcharapong, Meradee (2021). An Essay on Topics in Applied Microeconomics. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from