Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Charles Sims, Celeste Carruthers

Committee Members

Matthew Harris, Suzanne Lenhart


Economical decision making is complicated by uncertain and changing con- sequences. This dissertation looks at three unique scenarios – market structures that encourage the harvest of damaging invasive species, the decisions of un- documented immigrant in the face of immigration enforcement, and long-term student outcomes when risk protections are extended.First, I expand a dynamic harvesting model to include the damages incurred by the presence of an invasive species to understand the unique scenarios that exist from invasive species that have consumptive value. I find that these have unique “tipping points” where a manager can optimally push the species to erad- ication. In cases where eradication is not optimal, the manager can use species “rebranding” to encourage harvests better than bounties placed on harvests.Second, I examine how undocumented immigrants respond to the threat of deportation by contrasting daily attendance among undocumented Hispanic, documented Hispanic, and white students. I find that undocumented His- panic students are acutely responsive to the roll-out of a state immigration- enforcement law, with large spikes in absenteeism on days when the law over- comes court challenges, and increased withdrawals from school immediately fol- lowing the law clearing federal court. These laws seem to resonate more than Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations, as the former affects absenteeism, withdrawal and proxied concerns (internet search behavior) while ICE enforcement does not.Last, I analyze the differential responses of undocumented students to risk protections extended by DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). I extend the literature by examining the effect of the introduction of DACA in 2012, as well as the effect of its suspension in 2017. Student reactions in terms of disciplinary infractions, absences, andiiigrades shed light on the extent to which uncertainty affects human capital development and engagement with school.

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