Date of Award

Fall 2020

Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Economics, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Gregory DeAngelo

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Melissa Rogers

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eric Helland

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Rights Information

© Copyright Maryah Garner 2021


Regulations are often passed without fully considering how the long-run impact of those actions will affect the people they are meant to protect. The three chapters of my dissertation focus on examining the effect of regulation and policy changes on the health and safety of the communities affected by regulatory changes.

In my first chapter, I make use of a unique situation in San Francisco County where the drug lab was compromised when a veteran technician was stealing drugs and, in some instances, testing drugs while under the influence. Concerns around the technician's performance resulted in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office dropping hundreds of cases and not pursuing future cases involving drug crimes. Using this plausibly exogenous shock to the prosecutor's ability to try drug crimes, I examine the effect of non-prosecution on arrests made by law enforcement and drug overdose deaths. Using a difference in difference research design, I find that drug arrests are reduced by 46%; however, I find that not prosecuting drug offenses did not result in a corresponding increase in drug overdose deaths, nor do I find evidence that it led to an increase in drug-related emergency room visits.

In my second chapter, my co-authors and I estimate the causal relationship between job mismatches and suicides using an instrumental variable strategy. We instrument the manufacturing share of employment with exposure to the manufacturing shock created by the Permanent Normal Trade Relationship agreement with China. We refer to this as the tariff gap. This research finds that a 10-percentage-point decrease in the manufacturing share of employment leads to a 0.73 increase in deaths by suicide per 100,000 residents in the working-age population, equivalent to 1,460 deaths for a working-age population of 200 million. Our analysis's main effects are largely driven by regions experiencing non-decreasing job prospects but significant losses in manufacturing jobs.

In my third chapter, my co-authors and I examine whether externally-imposed affirmative action plans have impacted the rates of reported offenses and/or offenses cleared by arrest, seeking to replicate and extend Lott (2000) and McCrary (2007). Using a series of modern econometric strategies, including difference-in-differences decomposition and generalized synthetic controls, we do not find a significant effect of court-imposed affirmative action plans on the rates of reported offenses or reported offenses cleared by arrest, a finding consistent with McCrary (2007). We also consider whether un-litigated agencies change their practices due to the threat of litigation, but, like McCrary (2007), are unable to identify causal evidence of such threat effects.