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Essays in urban and public economics
Director of Research (if dissertation) or Advisor (if thesis)
Bernhardt, Mark Daniel
Doctoral Committee Chair(s)
Bernhardt, Mark Daniel
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Air Quality, Dust Storm, Housing Market, Drought, Migration, Donation, Religious beliefs
The first chapter is co-authored paper that provides new empirical evidence on the economic impact of climate change. We investigate the effect of the recent increase in the number of dust storms and exposure to dust emissions on the housing market in Iran. We combine the individual level data from almost two million housing transactions in the Iranian housing market and data on dust storm exposure from on-the-ground weather stations over recent decades. Our results show that the increase in the number of dust storms since 2008, is associated with a 5.5 percentage point decrease in the city-level average of housing prices. This research is among the first papers to investigate the recent impact of environmental degradation on the housing market.
In the second chapter, I study the heterogeneous family migration response to drought. This study found that families in Iran prefer to migrate together. The results show that family migration increases by 1.31-5.04 percent for different microclimates following a ten percent decrease in annual rainfall. Household heads migrate alone in some microclimates, but the migration increase is less than family migration. The results are robust after controlling for employment status at the destination. The results suggest that those working in the agricultural sector are more vulnerable to drought. This paper also finds that people migrating from drought-hit regions end up in higher-skilled jobs, and are less likely to have a formal job or a farming job at the destination.
In the third chapter, I study the effect of a shock to religious beliefs on charitable giving. I exploit a difference-in-difference model and use the incidents after the 2009 Iranian presidential election. I use a geographic discontinuity between the populations of two Islamic sectors, Shia and Sunni, and the shock to Shia’s religious beliefs following a religious-political movement. I find that the average annual donation by the Shia population drops by 25.4 percent, following the deadly crackdown on the protests. The results also indicate there exist heterogeneities in effects. Religious giving by the first two income quantile decreased by 40 percent. This study provides a new identification strategy to investigate the impact of religious beliefs on charitable giving. It also sheds light on how people are giving donations in Islam and how it changes in response to a shock.