Economics ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 7-2-2018


This dissertation explores two drivers behind the spread of non-communicable diseases – sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and youth tobacco use – in order to improve policies tailored to mitigate these behaviors. Chapter 2 uses primary survey data to estimate the willingness to pay (WTP) for a tax on sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) in New Mexico. Traditional contingent valuation regression methods were reformulated as a three-equation system. Results indicate that respondents who have healthier eating habits have statistically significantly higher preferences for SSB taxes. The estimated individual median WTP 95% confidence interval was 0.002-0.961 pennies-per-ounce. Chapter 3 continues the exploration into SSB taxation by examining the support for expanding the Health Diné Nation Act to all of New Mexico. We find that respondents who know that drinking too much soda can cause obesity are more likely to strongly support expansion of the SSB tax portion of the Healthy Diné Nation Act. However, hearing about other SSB taxes increases the odds of strongly opposing the expansion. Chapter 4 transitions to Nepal to investigate youth smoking behaviors. With a trivariate ordered probit model with independence we estimate the likelihood youths belong to one of three smoking categories and calculate the average marginal effect. We find that having a close friend who smokes greatly increases the likelihood of smoking. Perversely, exposure to anti-tobacco media greatly increases the likelihood of smoking. Overall, by implementing policies in this dissertation, we will be able to make major strides towards reducing the main risk factors for non-communicable diseases.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Economics

First Committee Member (Chair)

Alok Bohara

Second Committee Member

Melissa Binder

Third Committee Member

Gabriel Sanchez

Fourth Committee Member

Jose Pagan




Contingent valuation, Nepal, New Mexico, youth smoking, sugar-sweetened beverages, taxes

Document Type


Included in

Economics Commons