Koppa, Vijetha (2016-08). The Intended and Unintended Consequences of Public Policy. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon

abstract

  • The government implements various programs and policies with the intention of increasing social welfare. While it is important to evaluate the effects of these initiatives, conducting experiments to determine the implications of public policies is usually expensive and in many cases infeasible. In my dissertation, I employ different causal inference methodologies to identify the causal effects of public policies that affect the society at large. In the first chapter of my dissertation, I study the effect of the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) in altering the drinking behavior of individuals and thereby its effect on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Results show no evidence of an increase in STDs at the MLDA in the overall population, in racial subgroups, or in counties with the highest infection rates. The second chapter is an evaluation of the effects of the Section 8 housing voucher program on the criminal outcomes of its recipients. Using a housing voucher lottery, we find that voucher receipt increases violent crime arrests mainly for individuals with a history of arrest and for men. I study a specialized police intervention, called the Lethality Assessment Program, which identifies and empowers the most high-risk victims of domestic violence. I find that this proactive approach of law enforcement towards domestic violence incidents reduced female homicide victimization by men by 35 to 45 percent. Overall, my dissertation sheds light on the effectiveness of public policies and their intended and unintended consequences.
  • The government implements various programs and policies with the intention of increasing social welfare. While it is important to evaluate the effects of these initiatives, conducting experiments to determine the implications of public policies is usually expensive and in many cases infeasible. In my dissertation, I employ different causal inference methodologies to identify the causal effects of public policies that affect the society at large.

    In the first chapter of my dissertation, I study the effect of the Minimum Legal Drinking Age (MLDA) in altering the drinking behavior of individuals and thereby its effect on sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Results show no evidence of an increase in STDs at the MLDA in the overall population, in racial subgroups, or in counties with the highest infection rates. The second chapter is an evaluation of the effects of the Section 8 housing voucher program on the criminal outcomes of its recipients. Using a housing voucher lottery, we find that voucher receipt increases violent crime arrests mainly for individuals with a history of arrest and for men. I study a specialized police intervention, called the Lethality Assessment Program, which identifies and empowers the most high-risk victims of domestic violence. I find that this proactive approach of law enforcement towards domestic violence incidents reduced female homicide victimization by men by 35 to 45 percent. Overall, my dissertation sheds light on the effectiveness of public policies and their intended and unintended consequences.

publication date

  • August 2016