Date of Award

Fall 12-17-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael K. Price

Second Advisor

H. Spencer Banzhaf

Third Advisor

Kyle Mangum

Fourth Advisor

Nancy P. Kropf


In this dissertation, I explore how economic decisions diverge for different age groups. Two essays address the location decisions of older households while the third examines why different age cohorts donate to charities.

The first essay estimates how the age distribution of the population across cities will change as the number of older adults rises. I use a residential sorting model to estimate the location preference heterogeneity between younger and older households. I then simulate where the two household types will live in 2030. All MSAs end up with a higher proportion of older households in 2030, and only eight of 243 MSAs experience a decline in the number of older households. The results suggest that MSAs in upstate New York and on the west coast, particularly in California, will have the largest number of older households in 2030. Florida will remain a popular place for older households, but its relative importance may diminish in the future.

The second essay explores whether the basic motivations for charitable giving differ by age cohort. Using the results from a randomized field experiment, I test whether benefits to self or benefits to others drives the charitable giving decision for each age cohort. I find limited heterogeneity for benefits to self. Individuals between the ages of 50 and 64 increase average donations more than any other age cohort in response to emphasizing warm glow, and this heterogeneity is exclusively driven by larger conditional gifts.

The third essay is preliminary joint work with H. Spencer Banzhaf and Carlianne Patrick. We build a unique data set of local homestead exemptions, which vary by generosity and eligibility requirements, for tax jurisdictions in Georgia. Using school-district-level Census data since 1970 along with the history of such exemptions, we will explore the impact of these exemptions, particularly exemptions targeting older households, on the demographic makeup of each jurisdiction and consider the impact of these laws on the relative levels of housing capital consumed by older and younger households.