Stemming STEM: do State Merit Aid programs stem the production of STEM degrees? (Job Market Paper)
Abstract: This paper studies the effect of state merit aid on undergraduate degrees earned in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. State merit aid (SMA) programs have grown in popularity in recent decades as a mechanism to improve college attainment and reduce state out-migration by allocating awards based on student grade point average. A potential unintended consequence of SMA programs is substitution away from majors with traditionally lower GPAs to majors with traditionally higher GPAs. Using data from the American Community Survey, I estimate two-way fixed effects models within an event study framework to identify the effect of SMA programs on the production of undergraduate STEM degrees. I find that SMA programs reduce the likelihood of graduating in a STEM degree by 1.18 percentage points or 5.9%, on average. A back of the envelope calculation suggests that SMA programs reduced the stock of STEM graduates by 37,000 in the 2018-2019 academic year. The effect is stronger for women where the average reduction in STEM degree production is 10.3% compared to 3.5% for men.
Hastening homeownership: do State Merit Aid programs hasten the path to homeownership?
Abstract: SMA programs may work as a substitute for debt, affording recipients the financial flexibility to purchase a home earlier in their life cycle. Using data from the American Community Survey, I estimate event study models that use variation in the timing of SMA implementation to identify the effect of SMA programs on the proportion of individuals that own a home. I find that SMA programs have statistically and economically insignificant impacts on homeownership.
Job Quality across Developing Countries (with Shoghik Hovhannisyan, Veronica Montalva-Talledo, Carlos Rodriguez-Castelan, and Kersten Stamm)
Abstract: Creating more and better jobs is one of the main global development policy objectives. However, measuring and monitoring quality of employment within and across countries has been a challenging quest. To close this knowledge gap, this paper compiles a harmonized dataset of labor force and household surveys and develops a comparable measure of job quality for 40 developing countries. The proposed measure focuses on wage employment and builds on four dimensions: sufficient income, employment benefits, job stability, and working conditions. This paper expands the literature to analyze the job quality across countries globally and to apply multiple characteristics of jobs as opposed to a single indicator such as formality or wages. Results show significant variation of job quality across countries, economic sectors and sociodemographic characteristics including age, location (urban and rural areas), and level of education. The education premium is especially important for job quality in economic sectors with relatively low scores in one of the four dimensions. While average job quality of wage employment is relatively similar between men and women, men fare considerably better in the income dimension but not in in the working conditions dimension compared to women.
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