Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Marianne Wanamaker

Committee Members

Matthew Harris, Maria Padilla-Romo, Kasey Henricks


This dissertation is composed of three essays in applied microeconomics, each studying the behavioral response to incentives and regulations. The first chapter tests whether weakening criminal sanctions based on the use of violence effectively reduces the severity of a criminal act. In 2013, the United States Department of Justice reduced sentence years for drug criminals who do not possess weapons. Regression Discontinuity Design estimates of the probability of weapon possession of drug offenders show an 11-percentage point reduction in Florida's border counties. The second chapter estimates the impact of the refugee influx in Germany on recorded crimes by the immigration status of accused parties. This study uses the presence of vacant military facilities, which are converted to emergency shelters for refugees, as an instrument for refugee populations. I find one additional recorded refugee crime for every ten incoming refugees. However, the aggregate crime rate in Germany in these years remained unchanged because refugees' arrival significantly reduced crime committed by natives. The third chapter estimates the effect of child support payments on female-headed households. For identification, this study exploits the state-to-state variation in implementing the State Tax Refund Intercept (STRI) program, which collects child support arrearages by garnishing the absent parents' state income tax refund. The difference-in-difference estimate shows that the STRI significantly increased the likelihood of a household receiving child support. As a result, single mothers are less likely to receive welfare; more likely to get out of poverty; increase their labor supply.

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