Date of Award

Summer 8-9-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez

Second Advisor

Dr. Carlianne Patrick

Third Advisor

Dr. Spencer Banzhaf

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Charles Hankla


This dissertation investigates how alterations in government policies affect the level of, and access to, public amenities, and how outcomes vary across space. The first essay sheds light on whether the recentralization of political institutions in Russia affected the provision of regional public services. First, I exploit regional variation in governors’ party affiliation to assess the impact of a uniform change in political institutions towards more centralization on the level of public services provision across states. Second, I investigate whether the combined effect, recentralization and party affiliation, is different among local and global public services. I find that a change in the region’s affiliation newly aligning with the central government party induced by the policy change increases the level of global public services by 1-2 percent. However, I find no such effect on the provision of local public services.

The second essay is joint work with Carlianne Patrick. We exploit a unique characteristic of 10 charter schools in the metropolitan Atlanta area to identify property value capitalization of charter schools. Each of the 10 charter schools has two priority zones: households located in priority zone one have a higher probability of admission than households located in priority zone two. This study exploits spatial variation in the likelihood of attending a charter school between priority zone one and two to identify their effect on single-family home values using annual data on housing transactions. Our results indicate that prices increased by 6-8% for priority one zone homes compared to priority two zone homes after the opening of a new charter school. We also find that the priority one zone capitalization increases as the home’s traditional public school performs worse.

The third essay is joint work with Benjamin Ukert. We estimate the causal effect of the Australian National Firearms Agreement on firearm mortality. Our identification strategy relies on state variation in the pre-NFA firearm death rates in 1994-1996. The results suggest that the NFA decreased the total firearm death rate by 60%. The reduction in the total firearm death rate is driven by large decreases in the firearm homicide and firearm suicide rates, while we find no changes in the accidental and undetermined intent firearm death rate.