Economics ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-2-2018


There is broad-based qualitative evidence arguing that stress is a public health concern. In the search for causality however, economists investigating public health concerns are often limited to a narrow subset of socio-economic status (SES) factors which are not well suited to the evaluation of stress/health effects. As a result, economists have a difficult time answering the “how” and “why” questions which emerge from the well-respected SES/health gradient. This dissertation focuses on a subset of stressors credibly affiliated with SES to address two pathways underling the established SES/Health gradient. Chapter 2 uses the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to test financial strain (FS) and high-frequency job switching (JS) effects on health. Using dynamic panel random effects ordered probit specifications, we find support for FS and JS effects on self-assessed health status. Of course, policy recommendations that follow are unimaginably vast. In chapters 3 and 4, we focus on breaking down the grand policy consideration of reducing financial strain into politically viable actions. First, we develop and test a pragmatic policy analysis method against observable outcomes from two health policies made by the state of Alaska. In terms of reducing individual year-over-year health insurance premium volatility, the presented method performs better than the commonly relied upon actuarial methods. The implication is that adoption of such analytical methods may result in improved population health. Chapter 4 evaluates the effects of childhood retrospective circumstances on the experiences of adult financial strain. Results suggest school experiences, feelings of loneliness, parental work habits, and maternal relationships are key predictors of adult financial strain.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Economics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Alok K Bohara

Second Committee Member

Dr. David van der Goes

Third Committee Member

Dr. Gabriel R Sanchez

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Maurice L Moffett




Economics, Health, Social determinants of health, Econometrics, childhood retrospective circumstances, panel study of income dynamics

Document Type


Included in

Economics Commons