Essays in Public and Labor Economics
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CitationBolotnyy, Valentin. 2019. Essays in Public and Labor Economics. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation consists of three essays on a range of topics in public and labor economics that have current policy relevance.
The first essay provides insight on why the gender earnings gap has persisted over the last two decades. It focuses on bus and train operators in the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), a controlled work environment with little scope for explicit gender-based discrimination, and shows that there can be an earnings gap even when men and women face the same working conditions. Gender norms and responsibilities outside of the workplace mean that workplace schedule flexibility is especially important for women. Workplaces with rigid schedules and where long and unpredictable hours are compensated at higher rates continue to see large gender earnings gaps.
The second essay examines the role of auction design in managing risk exposure for contractors and minimizing costs for the government in the context of public procurement. Holding everything else fixed, contractors bidding on bridge projects at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), bid lower on items that are historically more variable so as to mitigate the possibility of a large shock in their ultimate compensation. We show that the existing mechanism, a ``scaling auction", insures risk-averse contractors against large changes in project scope, thereby reducing ultimate costs to the DOT. Counterfactual simulations show that while reducing uncertainty could reduce costs, incentivizing additional competition is a more promising direction for policy intervention.
The third essay looks at the intergenerational mobility of immigrants and refugees in Sweden. We use administrative data to show that, conditional on parent income, immigrant children have similar incomes and higher educational attainment in adulthood than native-born Swedes. This result, however, masks the fact that immigrant children born into poor families are more likely than similar natives to both reach the top of the income distribution and to stay at the bottom. Immigrant children from high-income families are also more likely than natives to regress to the economic bottom. Notably, however, children from predominantly-refugee sending countries like Bosnia, Syria, and Iran have higher intergenerational mobility than the average immigrant child in Sweden.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42029645
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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