Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Economics

Major Professor

Georg Schaur

Committee Members

William S. Neilson, Scott Gilpatric, John Bell

Abstract

My dissertation consists of three essays related to workplace behavior. In the first paper, we design a controlled laboratory experiment to study image motives in a setting where decisions signal intelligence. The experiment results show that in some settings social scrutiny can discourage individuals from making choices that signal their intelligence, despite evidence that the signal was privately valuable. In the second paper, we study the effect of Chinese import competition on occupational safety and health at US manufacturers. We find that a change in US trade policy and Chinese import shocks significantly increases worker injury and illness rates in competing US industries, especially at smaller, less productive plants. This paper presents the first evidence that import shocks affect welfare through changes in worker health. Building on this, in the third paper we look at broader mental and physical health effects of import competition in local labor markets. We find that import exposure worsens overall mental, physical, and general health in the surrounding area. The effects are greatest for mental health and among the employed, consistent with theory from the health literature pertaining to the documented effects of import competition on wages, employment, and job security.

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