Essays in Empirical Microeconomics
Phillips, David Cameron
This dissertation contains three essays in empirical microeconomics aimed at measuring the causal effects of policies related to poverty both in the U.S. and internationally. First, I examine the whether raising wages at home can encourage skilled health workers to remain in their country of training. In particular, I investigate this question in the context of Ghana and find that wage increases resulting from a new salary structure induced health workers receiving the largest wage increases to remain in Ghana. Second, I study the role of spatial mismatch in generating persistently poor labor market outcomes for urban, minority workers. In particular, I describe the results of a novel randomized field experiment that provided public transit subsidies to active job seekers in Washington, DC. I find that receiving these subsidies does improve labor market outcomes, indicating that spatial mismatch plays an important role in this low-wage labor market. Using the same experimental data, I also estimate and validate a structural model of job search which can then be used to measure the welfare impact of receiving treatment. I find transit subsidies are cost-effective, generating significant surplus relative to the cost of the intervention.
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