Economics ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-14-2022


This dissertation consists of three applied essays that empirically explore questions related to understanding the implication of public policy, practices, and interventions for vulnerable populations. The first chapter outlines the scope of the dissertation.

The second chapter examines the contemporary effects of historical redlining, practices that restricted access to mortgage financing for racial minorities, on residential property values. Using “redlining” geographical boundaries created in 1930s for Seattle, WA and Richmond, VA, and detailed housing data, econometric analysis finds that properties just inside a redlined boundary continue to sell at significantly discounted price compared to similar houses in non-redlined areas. These findings suggest that redlining had a persistent long-run effect on residential housing markets, which are likely still contributing to racial wealth disparity.

The third chapter evaluates the economic effectiveness of a jail-based methadone maintenance treatment program. Criminal activities are very costly and correlated with substance use disorder. Thus, there are potentially substantial benefits associated with incarceration-based substance use disorder treatment. Using novel data from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Bernalillo County, econometric analysis finds that jail-based methadone maintenance treatment participation is associated with considerable reductions in societal costs of crime.

The fourth chapter explores the determinants of smokeless tobacco prevalence in a developing country. Smokeless tobacco use is associated with significant health risks, and the burden is substantially higher in developing countries due to high prevalence rate. Using data from Nepal, econometric findings highlight that involvement in other health risk behaviors are positively correlated with smokeless tobacco use in Nepal, which can provide some insight into the effectiveness of policy tools aimed at reducing tobacco prevalence. The fifth chapter summarizes the contributions and discusses avenues for related future research.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Economics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Brady P. Horn (Co-Chair)

Second Committee Member

Alok K. Bohara (Co-Chair)

Third Committee Member

Robert P. Berrens

Fourth Committee Member

Noah Painter-Davis



Document Type


Available for download on Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Included in

Economics Commons