Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Risk Management and Insurance

First Advisor

George Zanjani (Chair)

Second Advisor

Conrad Ciccotello

Third Advisor

Martin Grace

Fourth Advisor

Stephen Shore

Fifth Advisor

Tyler Leverty (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


The dissertation consists of two essays on insurance markets and regulation. The first essay studies the timing of state-level tort reform enactments between 1971 and 2005. Using discrete time hazard models, we find the level of litigation activity---as measured by incurred liability insurance losses, the number of lawyers, and tort cases commenced---to be the most important and robust determinant of tort reform adoption. Political-institutional factors and regional effects---such as Republican control of the state government, single party control of the legislature and governorship, and a (relatively) conservative political ideology among a state’s Democrats---are also associated with quicker reform adoption.

In the second essay, we identify the effect of public guarantees on market discipline by exploiting the rich variation in U.S. state guarantees of property-liability insurer obligations. We find government guarantees significantly reduce the sensitivity of premium growth to changes in financial strength ratings, and that this reduced sensitivity applies to both price and volume changes. The effects are concentrated among insurers rated A- or lower by A.M. Best, the leading financial strength rating agency in the insurance industry. For downgraded insurers, we find that premium growth in business not covered by state guarantees falls in relation to growth in its covered business, with the estimate of the difference being as high as 15% for A- rated insurers and 10% for insurers rated below A-.