Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Barry T. Hirsch

Second Advisor

Paul J. Ferraro

Third Advisor

Melissa R. Banzhaf

Fourth Advisor

Rachana Bhatt


This dissertation consists of three distinct yet inter-related research papers in labor economics, each with relevance for public policy. The first chapter examines the role of wage differentials for caring work in explaining the gender wage gap. We find that both women and men face caring penalties that are small, about 2% for one standard deviation difference in caring. While women disproportionately work in caring jobs, it is unlikely that policies governing wages in the care sector could achieve pay equity between men and women.

The second chapter evaluates the impact of state legislation on bullying in schools. I employ a difference-in-differences approach exploiting variation across states in the timing and type of law adopted using nationally representative surveys at the student and school levels. While I find no impact of the laws on bullying in high schools, bullying occurs most often in middle school. And impacts might vary by school type and legislation type. I also discuss current challenges to evaluating bullying legislation and provide recommendations for facilitating a conclusive assessment of whether state bullying laws work.

The third chapter uses a field experiment to evaluate an intervention aimed at increasing participation in an academic assistance program. Supplemental Instruction (SI) is a widely used, but poorly evaluated, peer-tutoring program with low participation rates. We randomize encouragements to attend SI across a large student population. The resulting boost in participation allows us to estimate the per-session average causal impact of SI on grades for a subpopulation under certain assumptions.