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Title:Three essays on applied microeconomics
Author(s):Sampaio, Breno
Director of Research:Lubotsky, Darren H.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Powers, Elizabeth T.; Brown, Kristine M.; Laschever, Ron A.
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Causal Effects
Nationalistic Bias
Abstract:This thesis is divided into three separate chapters. In the first chapter, I analyze the relationship between age and college entrance test score and enrollment. In the second chapter, I focus on how cell phone bans affect driving fatalities rates. Finally, the third chapter studies nationalistic bias in the professional division of surfing. In the next three paragraphs, I summarize these three chapters. The consequences of single-date school entry systems, which generate a large age difference between children in the same class, are now a widely studied subject. Published research has shown that older children consistently outperform their younger counterparts in several outcomes while in elementary and in the beginning of high school, however, evidence is weak when one considers long-run outcomes such as wages or the probability of being employed. In this chapter I use data from a major university in Brazil to investigate whether age differences significantly affect students' college entrance test scores and their probability of being accepted for higher education. Results show that older students outperform younger students on test scores and, more importantly, this difference significantly affects their likelihood of being accepted in college. These results suggest that age differences might have important long-run effects given its direct link to students' access to higher education. There has been significant amount of research in the transportation area on the development of strategies that allow good comparisons between states, such that policy analysis are allowed to be carried out and informative policy-oriented questions are allowed to be answered. In this chapter I propose the use of Synthetic Control Methods (SCM) to overcome several identification problems present in previous studies when constructing comparison groups/counterfactuals. I apply the SCM to analyze the effect of New York State’s law prohibiting handheld cell phone use while driving on fatalities rates. Results show that (i) a convex combination of the states of IL, MA and TX provide a good (synthetic) “peer state” for NY when evaluating this specific policy and (ii) that imposing the ban lead to a decrease of about 9% in fatality rates. The past two decades has seen an increasing interest in detecting and quantifying hidden actions taken by agents when facing decisions that may lead to higher individual payoffs but are not easily observed by all parties involved. One such area that has recently received a lot of attention is on understanding the decision making process of professional referees in sports. In this chapter I estimate nationalistic bias using data from the world's elite division of professional surfing. Different from previous sports analyzed in the literature, surfing competitions are composed mainly by man-on-man heats with surfers having as many as 15 performances scored by the same judging panel in each heat, allowing one to overcome the main difficulty encountered by previous researchers which is to correctly identify whether judges misbehavior is a result of preferences over the way athletes perform in a specific country or is driven by intentionally misreporting scores to benefit a fellow countrymen. Different from what has consistently been reported in the literature, results show that surfing judges neither underscore nor overscore their fellow compatriots. However, they significantly underscore athletes competing against their countrymen. Also, the score given by the judge scoring the surfer competing against his countrymen is statistically smaller than all other judges' scores when the compatriot is losing, but statistically the same when the compatriot is winning, which supports the idea that judges’ bias is a result of strategic behavior. Finally, the large score penalties are shown to have a significant effect on final heat positions and, as a consequence, final points and prizes earned in the tournament.
Issue Date:2012-02-06
Rights Information:Copyright 2011 Breno Sampaio
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-02-06
Date Deposited:2011-12

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