The Effects of Housing Wealth on Education and Other Essays in Empirical Microeconomics
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This dissertation is composed of three essays. The first essay, Family Resources and Secondary Education Investment: Evidence From the Housing Boom uses plausibly exogenous home price increases during the housing boom in the late 1990's and early 2000's to identify the effect of family resources on investment in secondary education. Exploiting the large spatial and timing variation of home price changes during this period, I find the average home price increase lowered the probability of dropping out of high school by age 19 by 1 percentage point, a 10% reduction. Consistent with an increased expectation of ability to pay for college, home price increases also raised the probability of completing a college preparatory curriculum and attending college. Students who reported low grades in eighth grade respond the strongest to home price increases suggesting that merit-based scholarship programs might be less beneficial than scholarship programs which are not contingent on ability. Black students of all ability levels are more likely to remain in high school in response to a home price increase. A mean change in home price decreased the probability of black students dropping out by 20%. The second chapter, The Effect of Housing Wealth on Labor Market Outcomes and Behavior, expands on the findings of Chapter 1 and previous literature that found a link between housing wealth and education by examining the impact of home wealth on adult labor market outcomes and behavior. Using the NLSY97, I measure the effect of a change in home price while in high school on income at age 26, job industry, criminal behavior, and community participation. I find evidence that home wealth shocks increase the probability of holding white collar jobs, increase wages, and positively impact behavior outcomes. These effects are likely manifesting through the increased education found in previous work. The final chapter examines the effect of the introduction of Sildenafil (Viagra) on marriage rates for elderly men in the United States. I exploit the sudden introduction and rise of Viagra use along with the difficulty in obtaining Viagra prescriptions for men with heart problems or history of stroke in a difference in difference framework to find the effect of Viagra on marriage rates. I find that men physically able to take Viagra which married prior to the introduction of Viagra were more likely to remain in their current marriage or enter a new marriage after Viagra's introduction. Furthermore, I find no evidence that the marital behavior of women was altered by health conditions at the time of Viagra's introduction.