Date of Graduation
Chambers College of Business and Economics
The first essay focuses on alcohol access in college, which is an impediment to many students' success. Alcohol sales to general seating at college football games has been broadly adopted despite results suggesting greater alcohol availability increases crime and college alcohol abuse. Using differences-in-differences, this paper estimates how allowing alcohol sales in college football general seating sections affects crime. Reductions in crime are found after sales are allowed. After sales begin, those under the age of 21 are still not legally permitted to purchase in-stadium alcohol, but are still affected by changes in other stadium policies or law enforcement strategies. Using this group to address unobserved confounders suggests the causal effect of increased legal alcohol access at games is reduced crime on home game days. Results suggest substitution effects matter for the relationship between alcohol access and criminal behavior, identifying a new empirical nuance to be heeded when making alcohol policies.
The second essay focuses on financial aid for college. Merit-based financial aid programs are amongst the largest sources of financial aid for college, yet estimated effects may be biased by students sorting into treatment due to known academic cutoffs. This paper estimates how likely students are to meet minimum academic renewal requirements, in a state where sorting into treatment has been shown, by using an unmanipulated birthdate cutoff created by compulsory kindergarten entry laws. Fuzzy regression discontinuity shows being born slightly after the cutoff, 14 years before the college program begins, leads to a 49.6 percentage point (pp) increase in scholarship receipt. Difference in discontinuity estimates, accounting for potential relative age and season of birth confounding, find students are 24 pp more likely to exceed GPA and completed credits renewal requirements. The results suggest GPA or credits thresholds are equally effective, advancing the literature on behavioral aspects of large merit-aid programs and informing their design.
The third essay focuses on peer groups and non-cognitive abilities. Employers value non-cognitive abilities as much as cognitive ones and non-cognitive abilities have significant bearing on education, labor market, health, and macroeconomic outcomes. This paper estimates how peers affect non-cognitive skill formation, including communication, leadership, and attitude. Students at the National Outdoor Leadership School are conditionally randomly assigned to groups, meaning they are randomly exposed to different levels of peer ability. Being assigned to peers with higher self-rated non-cognitive ability causes a reduction in self-rated communication and leadership by 0.1 standard deviations, but not attitude. The largest results are from females rating themselves lower in communication and leadership. This work suggests strong peers are not an effective way to bolster non-cognitive ability for college-aged individuals and that peers may contribute to less women in leadership positions.
Blemings, Benjamin, "Causal Determinants of College Success" (2021). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8079.