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Title:Essays in applied microeconomics
Author(s):Miller, Sarah
Director of Research:Lubotsky, Darren H.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Lubotsky, Darren H.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bernhardt, Daniel; Brown, Jeffrey R.; Kaestner, Robert
Department / Program:Economics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Health economics
consumer credit
emergency room
information economics
Abstract:This dissertation consists of three essays. The first essays, entitled ``The Effect of Insurance on Emergency Room Visits: An Analysis of the 2006 Massachusetts Health Reform,'' analyzes the impact of a major health reform in Massachusetts on emergency room (ER) visits. I exploit the variation in pre-reform uninsurance rates across counties to identify the causal effect of the reform on ER visits. My estimates imply that the reform reduced ER usage by between 5 and 13 percent, nearly all of which is accounted for by a reduction in non-urgent visits that could be treated in alternative settings. The reduction in non-urgent and primary-care treatable visits is most pronounced during regular office hours when physician's offices are likely to be open. In contrast, I find no effect for non-preventable emergencies such as heart attacks. These estimates are consistent with a large causal effect of insurance on ER usage and imply that expanding insurance coverage could have a substantial impact on the efficiency of health services. The second essay, entitled ``The Impact of Health Care Reform on Personal Bankruptcy,'' studies the same reform to analyze the effect of insurance on personal bankruptcy. I find that the reform reduced personal bankruptcy rates, with the most pronounced declines occurring in the most affected counties. The magnitude of the estimated effect increases with exposure to the reform: a one percentage point decrease in pre-reform insurance rate decreases the personal bankruptcy rate by 0.03 bankruptcies per 1000 residents. This reduction is driven by Chapter 7 bankruptcies that tend to be filed by low-income debtors. In contrast, I do not find significant improvements in other measures of economic activity, such as the unemployment rate or the business bankruptcy rate. The final chapter, ``Information and Default in Consumer Credit Markets: Evidence from a Natural Experiment,'' looks at the role of information in consumer credit markets. Despite the prominent role that information plays in the economic theory of credit markets, no direct evidence exists on the causal relationship between the availability of information about loan applicants and loan performance. This chapter provides such evidence by exploiting an unanticipated change in the amount of information visible in an online market for loans to measure the impact of lender information on loan outcomes. Conditional on data available in both periods, allowing lenders to access more borrower credit information reduced default rates by 10 percentage points on average. These gains were most pronounced for high risk loans. Recovery rates on defaulted loans improved. Immediate lender returns increased by about 12 percentage points and took 6 weeks to decay, providing a measure of the time it took for the market to assimilate the content of the new information. I test whether these results are driven by lender screening or selection among loan applicants using data that is unobserved by lenders in both periods. I find that there is no change in unobserved credit quality among loan applicants, indicating that the improvement in default rates is primarily a result of better lender screening.
Issue Date:2012-09-18
Rights Information:Copyright 2012 Sarah Miller
Date Available in IDEALS:2012-09-18
Date Deposited:2012-08

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