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Economics

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Doctoral Dissertation Research in Economics: The Consequences of Welfare Reform: A Case Study in Michigan

This research will study the effects of losing access to welfare (cash assistance) by taking advantage of a unique welfare reform policy in Michigan that swiftly and unexpectedly removed eligibility from tens of thousands of families from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. This project will gather detailed administrative data from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on welfare recipients and their families and link it to a large credit bureau data for the investigation.

Doctoral Dissertation Research in Economics: What's in a Name? The Effect of Changing Definitions of "Employer" on Worker Outcomes

his doctoral dissertation research in economics (DDRIE) project will use machine language and modern economic methods to investigate court decisions on who is an "employee" affect worker's labor outcomes, such as employment tenure, wages, benefits, and unionization. There has been a large increase in "contingent workers" - workers who are on temporary contracts, contracted out, or are independent contractors. These workers have weaker protections in terms of compensation tenure and collective action.

Doctoral Dissertation Research in Economics: Spatial Equilibrium and the Value of Public Transit

One of the important issues in an urbanizing world is understanding how public transportation affects the growth and development of regions. Public infrastructure investments are costly and thus understanding their contribution to regional development is imperative to assess the benefits given the high costs. Since public transportation is not randomly distributed across space, it is challenging to disentangle the amenity value of neighborhoods from that of the transportation network itself.

Doctoral Dissertation Research in Economics: Belief Formation and Choice in Games: An Experiment

Much of economic analysis is based on the idea that economic agents respond to incentives and that they will increase their effort to understand the consequences of their actions in order to make the right decisions. This research project will use laboratory experiments to test whether increasing the size of reward or punishment (stakes henceforth) while considering how others will react affect the effort one puts into studying the environment before s/he makes the decision. The research will answer the following questions: (i) does the size of stakes affect people?s choices and beliefs?

Imprecise Inference from Sequentially Presented Evidence

Understanding how people make decisions is crucial to advancing our understanding of economic mechanisms. Rational-choice theory, despite successes in accounting for some aspects of human decision making under uncertainty, fails to capture certain recurrent patterns observed in behavior, such as biases and apparent randomness in choices. Some of these deviations from optimal behavior suggest that information is processed in the brain in a way that introduces imprecision, similar to the imprecision in sensory perception.

Credibility in Persuasion

This award funds research in economic theory. The research team seeks to use tools from game theory to model and analyze situations in which persuasion, credibility, and information design are important. In many different kinds of economic (and social) interactions, one or more parties provides information to others, but also has an interest in the outcome. For example, a firm marketing a new product provides information about the product's features and benefits to possible buyers, but obviously the firm also wants to make the sale.

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