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Topics in Microeconomics: Analysis of Three Policy Issues

Ashley Erceg, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation broadly examines three policy-relevant questions using applied microeconomic methods. Chapter 1 investigates the long-run impact of childcare subsidies offered soon after birth on women's employment, earnings, and total hours worked. Using restricted data that links earnings records from the SSA/IRS to the SIPP 1984-2008 panels and the PSID, I implement a dynamic difference-in-difference model that exploits variation in the timing of birth and the 2003 expansion to the Child and Dependent Care Credit. I find that early exposed women are 1.2 to 2.5 percentage points more likely to be employed in the short run. This effect grows in the long run, suggesting women stay engaged in the labor market. This translates to large earnings returns for early exposed women. Five to ten years after giving birth early exposed women earn between $6,100-$6,800 more per year. Chapter 2 assesses the return to college persistence for marginal students by comparing the labor market outcomes for students who graduate to those who drop out using propensity score matching. We use survey data from the National Education Longitudinal Survey of 1988 (NELS:88) linked to transcript records, which allows us to match graduates and non-graduates based on GPA and major. We find no significant difference in annual wages or the probability of healthcare coverage between dropouts and graduates. We do find evidence that dropouts are less likely to have a retirement plan and are less likely to be satisfied with their fringe benefit plan. Chapter 3 examines the effect of the Adult Student Grant, a need-based grant offered to adult students in Indiana. Using the synthetic control method and data from IPEDS, I find little evidence that total enrollment increased after the implementation of the Adult Student Grant. Increases in enrollment only occur in the Fall of the 2017 academic year after the launch of a re-enrollment campaign. This increase is largely driven by increases in public institutions.

Subject Area

Labor economics|Economics

Recommended Citation

Erceg, Ashley, "Topics in Microeconomics: Analysis of Three Policy Issues" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI30423500.