Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2023

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



In this thesis, I focus on understanding causes and consequences of different types of inequalities in the marriage and labor markets.

In Chapter 1 titled Education, Marriage and Social Security, I explore how changes in tax and retirement policy affect education and marriage. The social security system is non-neutral with respect to marriage, with married couples able to receive 150 percent of the primary earner's benefits (spousal benefits). We first document trends relating to social security and household structure and then build a structural model with endogenous education and marriage, where households are modeled in a collective-household setup as compared to a standard unitary model. Contrary to models where the returns to education are only through the labor market, our model predicts increasing payroll taxes leads to a marginal increase in those who invest in college, while reducing those who choose to remain single. Removal of spousal benefits or joint income taxation results in a reduction in the economic benefit of marriage and work. This leads to increased labor force participation by married females; however, removal of spousal benefits leads to higher singlehood rates, higher college investment, and higher male labor force participation, while that of joint income taxation results in lower male labor force participation and marginal change in college investment or singlehood rates. This arises primarily due to the modeling of the collective household, where both spouses' decisions matter. Thus, evaluation of the social security system is sensitive to decisions of education, marriage, and within-household bargaining and will be incomplete without incorporating these decisions.

In Chapter 2 titled Gender and Mentorship in Entrepreneurship (with Chuan Chen and Bart Hamilton), we study the role informal mentoring can play in bridging the gender gap in venture financing. Mentors can play two roles: financial and role model. Using data from Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN), we document the characteristics of the matched pairs, their funding patterns and then estimate the relative 'value’ of a match using Fox (2018) model. Female-Female matches benefit more from the role-model aspect, compared to Male-Male matches. Close to 20 percent of the gains from homophily is from financial aspect for males; this number is $<$1 percent for females.

In Chapter 3 titled Estimating Moral Hazard in Healthcare Utilization from a Large Scale Policy Experiment: Universal Healthcare, Not Universal Benefit (with George-Levi Gayle, Peter-John Gordon and Devon Lynch), we combine quasi-experimental approaches with a structural model to estimate the level of moral hazard in health care utilization. We use an unanticipated change in the healthcare system of Jamaica from a means-tested user fee regime to one with 100 percent state funding in 2008 for this purpose. As the poor had free access to medical services in public hospitals, this provides exogenous price variation in the public health sector as compared to the private health sector. Using data from the Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions (JSLC) for the years 2004 to 2012, we first use a non-linear difference-in-difference approach to evaluate the effect of this change on facility usage (public versus private) as well as on frequency of visit. We find evidence indicating the possibility of a `crowding out', suggesting that a universal health care policy may lead to redistribution away from the poor. We then extend Cardon and Hendel (2001) model to allow for choice of type of hospital (public or private) and show how the quasi-experimental variation allows for identification of the structural parameters of the model. We then use the estimated model to quantify the welfare implications of moral hazard and the level of redistribution away from the poor.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Barton H. Hamilton George-Levi Gayle

Committee Members

Limor Golan, Robert A. Pollak, Stephen P. Ryan,

Available for download on Tuesday, May 10, 2033