Essays on Participation in Intercultural Marriages, Political Partisanship, and Patterns in Dialysis Center Efficiency
Ma, Martin Jun
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This dissertation utilizes tools in applied microeconomics to investigate a series of topics in cultural economics, political economics, and health economics. The first essay focuses on cultural economics. Recent work estimated the effect of cultural attitudes on outcomes of economic importance. While this work was successful in discovering which specific attitudes play an important role, it has not yet identified the particular mechanisms linking culture to outcomes. Using data from the World Values Survey and U.S. Census, we study how marriage market conditions affect the manner in which attitudes map into outcomes among immigrants to the United States. We focus on attitudes regarding family size and female labor force participation. We find that an increased probability that a given immigrant will marry an American is associated with a weakened relationship between attitudes and outcomes for the entire immigrant group. Conversely, the more excluded an immigrant group is from the domestic marriage market, the more likely they will exhibit economic outcomes associated with their cultural beliefs. In the second paper, we study partisanship and voting behavior. Previous work uses choice models for recent U.S. Presidential elections and finds increasing voter partisanship. We show that this work is incomplete. We employ non-parametric estimators to decompose nonlinear choice models and find that voter partisanship drives Presidential election outcomes. However, we do not find that partisanship is monotonically increasing as concluded by other researchers. We find that for recent Presidential elections, changes in partisanship matter more than changes in party affiliations. Using Oaxaca regression decompositions, we find that increased partisanship in New Jersey since 1980 is not the result of shifting demographics, but of the propensity of each demographic group to vote along party lines (partisanship over time).The final article examines the U.S. dialysis industry. Using Data Envelopment Analysis, we estimate the technical efficiency of U.S. dialysis centers. Despite effort by the industry to lower cost, we find that only less than 27% of dialysis facilities operate efficiently. A multinomial logit regression analysis reveals that efficiency for clinics depends on the region, chain-affiliation, and if the location is urban.