Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Brad R. Humphreys

Committee Co-Chair

Adam Nowak

Committee Member

Feng Yao

Committee Member

Brad Price


The first chapter examines the effect of policing strategies on housing prices. Crime has been shown to negatively affect housing values. However, there is not much empirical evidence documenting the amenity value of how people are policed. Stop & Frisk was a particularly salient policing tactic employed in New York City until a judge ruled it to be unconstitutional. This chapter uses exogenous variation in Stop & Frisk behavior resulting from landmark events in a federal class action lawsuit as well as exposure to Operation Impact, a high intensity policing strategy, to explain variation in property sales. Results indicate a 6% increase in sale price for properties most exposed to Stop & Frisk relative to nearby properties after the practice is ruled unconstitutional. However, this increase in value does not appear to be received by property owners who are predicted to be non-white or having lived in the property during an active Impact Zone. The decrease in perception of one’s home value is comparable to that resulting from an economic recession. This result adds to a growing literature that shows the strong negative cognitive consequences of Stop & Frisk such as decreased mental health and lower educational outcomes.

The second chapter is joint work with Dr. Zachary Rodriguez and Joshua C. Martin. This chapter presents evidence of Earvin “Magic” Johnson’s announcement that he contracted HIV served as a public-health catalyst for rapidly increasing the public’s understanding of who was at risk for infection. Using a novel identification strategy, we estimate statistically significant differences in the rates of AIDS diagnoses between heterosexual and homosexual men in the United States immediately following Johnson’s announcement. Results indicate that this effect was concentrated in areas with greater exposure to Johnson prior to his announcement. The results suggest that Johnson’s effect on diagnoses was driven by an intertemporal substitution in testing. We verify Johnson’s announcement as an important moment in the history of the AIDS pandemic as it significantly impacted beliefs about vulnerability to HIV/AIDS across the United States.

The third chapter examines the effect of Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) on traffic outcomes. Traffic safety and congestion represent important nationwide transportation issues. For example, car crash fatalities accounted for 1.3% of all deaths in the United States in 2017. Therefore, maintaining safe roads is a top priority for all transportation departments. Transportation departments use DMS to convey traffic conditions and other information to drivers in order to increase attentiveness, reduce harmful behavior, and caution drivers of upcoming incidents. Previous research (Hall & Madsen, 2021) has found certain uses of DMS can in fact increase the number of crashes on a highway by distracting drivers. This study uses variation in the message text displayed by Virginia’s Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) DMS to explain detailed speed and crash data along Virginia’s Federal-Aid Highway System. Results indicate that messages that transition between multiple pages increase the risk of a crash and reduce speed around DMS. Policy implications of these results are DOTs should make efforts to reduce messages that transition as these are especially distracting to drivers.