Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

James C. Cox

Second Advisor

James H. Marton

Third Advisor

Barry T. Hirsch

Fourth Advisor

Vjollca Sadiraj

Fifth Advisor

Glenn W. Harrison


The central theme of this research is understanding the underlying incentive structures of public policies that have behavioral implications, with particular focus on unintended consequences. The three chapters of the dissertation examine three such policies in the domain of labor, health and public economics with the aim of understanding how incentives are created or distorted, leading to unintended consequences.

The first chapter uses a laboratory experiment to test affirmative action variants that differ on the basis of their nature and timing. Using a rank-order tournament, the experiment tests the relative impact of ex-ante (developmental) and ex-post (preferential) affirmative action policies on performance and diversity.

The second chapter uses secondary data and quasi-experimental empirical techniques to study the impact of the Medicaid expansion under the 2014 Affordable Care Act on marital decision making. The Medicaid expansions provided an alternative source of health insurance other than through spousal dependent coverage, thus changing the relative benefit and costs associated with marriage.

The third chapter is a field experiment that uses information on Arizona’s state income tax credit for donations to qualifying charities to understand whether the intention to give individuals the freedom to donate to their preferred cause leads to an increase in the overall charitable pie or reallocates funds away from contributions to other causes.