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Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department

Economics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Health Inequality: Role of Insurance and Technological Progress. This paper investigates the role of insurance and technological progress on the rising health inequality across income groups. We develop a life-cycle model of an economy where individuals decide consumption- savings, whether to take up health insurance, when to visit a doctor and how much to invest in their health capital. Our estimates show that the timing of the health investments explain a substantial part of health inequality across wealth/ income groups. We find that while rich and poor have comparable health investments, there are substantial differences in the timing of the investments. The estimated model is able to explain about 65% of the gap in life-expectancy across income groups observed in data. We show that different types of technological innovation interacts with the timing of the investment and has a first order effect on disparities. On one hand, a non-uniform increase in the productivity of the medical sector – one where there are improvements in treating early stages of cancer for example, but none for stage 4 – can lead to increase in inequality in Life-expectancy. On contrast, a uniform increase in the productivity of the healthcare sector, leads to a reduction in disparities.

Optimal Management of an Epidemic: Lockdown, Vaccine and Value of Life. In this paper, we study a dynamic macro model to capture the trade-off between policies that simultaneously decrease output and the rate of transmission of an epidemic. We find that optimal policies initially restrict employment but partial loosening occurs before the peak of the epidemic. The arrival of a vaccine (even if only a small fraction can be vaccinated in the short run) implies a relaxation of stay-at-home policies and, in some cases, results in an increase in the speed of infection. The monetary value of producing a vaccine decreases rapidly as time passes. The value that society assigns to averting deaths is a major determinant of the optimal policy.

Limits to Firm Growth: All in the Family? We model a firm as a collection of managers who coordinate on joint production. The firm-level production technology features increasing returns to the number of managers and complementarity across managers of heterogeneous skills. Individuals are born into families that differ in size and managerial skill endowment. Each member of a family has the option to (i) work as a manager in the family firm; (ii) work as a manager in a non-family firm; or (iii) supply non-managerial labor for a wage. Non-family firms are constrained by a basic moral-hazard constraint: individual managers can steal a fraction of the joint output and forgo their managerial remunerations. The fraction that they may steal can be reduced by costly monitoring, which determines the optimal size of the firm. The limitation of family firms is, naturally, that the size and the managerial skill endowment of a family are exogenously given and immutable.

Language

English (en)

Chair and Committee

Rodolfo E. Manuelli

Committee Members

Barton H. Hamilton, Francisco J. Buera, Carlos Garriga, George-Levi Gayle,

Available for download on Thursday, May 21, 2071

Included in

Economics Commons

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