Essays in Labor Economics
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CitationClinton, Kirsten. 2021. Essays in Labor Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractIn this dissertation, I explore inequalities in higher education and at the intersection of higher education and the labor market.
Chapter 1 explores the employment effects of strengthening anti-discrimination laws for minority workers in the context of two recent changes to the Missouri Humans Rights Act. First, I use data from Missouri’s circuit courts to establish that workers file more employment discrimination cases when the applicable laws are more favorable to plaintiffs. Using data on individual job histories from the Quarterly Workforce Indicators, I then show that employers respond to the increased litigation risk by hiring fewer protected workers. Finally, I analyze data provided by Burning Glass Technologies to connect the decrease in minority hiring with an increase in the prevalence of bachelor’s degree requirements in online job postings. Counties with high levels of racial animus, and industries that are highly susceptible to employment discrimination litigation, experienced the largest changes in bachelor’s degree requirements and minority employment after the policy changes.
In Chapter 2, I provide evidence that part of the wage gap between college and university graduates can be attributed to differences in employers’ perceptions about the two types of schools. Using school-by-cohort earnings data from the College Scorecard, I show that a recent policy that changed the names of six Massachusetts schools from State Colleges to State Universities increased the earnings of students at the treated schools by $1,500 per year. This result is robust to multiple specifications of the group of comparison schools. The estimated effect of moving from a college to a university is nearly twice as large for women as for men. Furthermore, I demonstrate that this change is not the result of increased graduation or employment rates or an increase in the share of students pursuing lucrative majors like business or STEM fields.
Chapter 3 asks whether broad-based merit aid scholarships, which became increasingly prominent during the 1990s and early 2000s, impacted the share of college students from low-income families. Combining data on the family income distribution of students by college and birth year from Opportunity Insights together with detailed scholarship data from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs, I show that merit aid programs tend to further skew undergraduate cohorts towards students from high-income families. However, this effect can be offset by giving larger financial awards and can be completely reversed for particularly generous scholarships that require only modest levels of academic achievement.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368277
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