Essays on Education and Political Economy
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AbstractIn this dissertation, I use the tools of applied microeconomics to study the provision of public services. The first chapter focuses on the provision of public education in Brazil. The second and third chapters study the provision of policing and education, respectively, in the United States.
In the first chapter, which is joint work with Diana Moreira and Laura Trucco, we study how a change in the political party of the mayor in Brazil affects the provision of public education. We find that students in municipalities with a new party in office have significantly lower test scores. We also find that school personnel (headmaster and teacher) turnover is higher in municipalities with a new party in power, but only in schools that are controlled by the municipal government. We then provide evidence that political turnover negatively impacts student outcomes through political discretion of the municipal government over the education bureaucracy.
In the second chapter, which is joint work with Frederik Schwerter, we study the relationship between fatal police use of force and trust in the police in the US. We find evidence that minority attitudes toward the police are negatively correlated with police use of force against minorities. White attitudes toward the police do not display such a relationship with respect to police use of force against whites (or minorities). We conclude that only minority attitudes toward the police respond to police use of force against their in-group; this response is targeted towards policing institutions and does not "spill over" to attitudes towards other formal or informal institutions.
In the final chapter, which is joint work with Natalie Bau, we study affirmative action policy in the US. We use a 2003 Supreme Court ruling that made affirmative action in college admissions constitutional to study the impact of affirmative action in higher education on educational achievement prior to college. Using SAT data and administrative school records, we find that the implementation of affirmative action narrowed the achievement gap between minority (black and Hispanic) and white high school students on standardized test scores, course grades, and the likelihood of taking advanced courses.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:40046524
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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