Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Chambers College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Joshua Hall

Committee Member

Bryan McCannon

Committee Member

Alexander Lundberg

Committee Member

Todd Nesbitt


This dissertation is comprised of three essays. Chapter 1 is about a house titling program, called Khaya Lam, in South Africa. Despite it being legal in South Africa to acquire a title deed to a government-issued home, roughly 20 million South Africans do not hold title to their property. Millions of homes are eligible to have ownership transferred from the government to the individuals living in them, but legal costs and lack of awareness keep these renters from going through the steps to secure title deeds. Though they may occupy the property for years, without a title deed South Africans are unable, under the law, to make improvements to the property, sell it, or leave it to heirs. The government can seize the property at any time. The Khaya Lam project began in 2013 in an effort to streamline the title deed process and cover legal costs and has teamed up with municipalities to issue almost ten thousand deeds to date. The expansion of property rights are a positive shock to wealth, which can affect investment in security, but could also create opportunities for more crime. Chapter 1 employs the Synthetic Control Method to understand the relationship between securing property rights and crime. Chapter 2 is about identifying house fires as an unintended consequence of electrical load shedding.At the end of 2014, South Africa was unexpectedly required to implement load shedding, which is electricity blackouts aimed at relieving strain on the electrical grid. Soon after, it was revealed that the nationally owned power company, Eskom, had been neglecting infrastructure maintenance and that the people should expect load shedding to continue for many more years. Chapter 2 explores behavioral responses to load shedding in terms of household energy consumption, and then considers the prevalence of fires as a potential consequence. After load shedding started, there is evidence that households substituted away from using electricity to alternative energy sources for cooking and lighting energy. By exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in the timing and spacing of load shedding, estimates show that likelihood of residential fires increases when load shedding occurs in an area. Chapter 3 is about currency iconography, which is the study of the images on banknotes. The images on a country’s currency are purposefully chosen by the people or government to be representative of that country. Potentially, one could learn a lot about the economic and political climate of a country by simply looking at the pictures on its money. Chapter 3 reports indexes measuring the political, religious, and cultural/scientific content as well as the representation of women on currency notes. The analysis suggests that currency iconography can be used as an indication of the quality of the institutions or socio-economic outcomes in that country.