Date of Award


Degree Type

Restricted to Claremont Colleges Dissertation

Degree Name

Economics, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gregory DeAngelo

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Melissa Rogers

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Eric Helland

Terms of Use & License Information

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights Information

© 2024 Ben Feingold


Local communities, Jail systems, Regression discontinuity design, Government services

Subject Categories



This work is a comprehensive study of city- and county-level policies and their impacts on local communities. The topics addressed range from land use and real estate development, to police response and crime prevention, to county jails, decarceration, and local labor markets. These far-reaching policies share a fundamental commonality: local decision makers allocating resources in a way that impacts the behavior of individual actors within their communities. The studies employ the latest econometric techniques, including spatial regression discontinuity and difference in differences methods, to identify the causal effects of these policies and programs. In the first chapter of this work, I examine the causal effects of local land use regulation—in particular allowable density of residential development—on key outcomes including housing development, transaction volume, and land values. The key problem researchers in this field face is the endogeneity of zoning and other land use regulations; if greater density is allowed in areas close to transit or other amenities that are already more attractive for development, then we cannot disentangle the impacts of those regulations from the effects of other factors that influence land value and development patterns. In order to address that problem, I exploit quasi-random variation in land use controls resulting from Los Angeles Transit Oriented Communities (TOC) Affordable Housing Incentive Program. Using a spatial regression discontinuity design (RDD), I identify the effects of these land use incentives on housing development and land values that serve as the basis for property tax assessments. I use this analysis to conduct an evaluation of the TOC program, quantifying the potential fiscal and economic benefits to the city from land use reforms. The second chapter explores the impacts of increased supervisory burdens on county jail systems on the early release of inmates, crime, and employment. The institutional context for this study is California Public Safety Realignment, which was implemented through the passage of Assembly Bill 109 (AB109) in October 2011. AB109 shifted supervision of offenders convicted of certain non-serious, non-violent, and non-sexual offenses (1170(h) offenders) from state prisons to county jails. We leverage quasi-random variation across California counties in the pre-AB109 jail capacity and number of 1170(h) offenders assigned to local supervision to measure the average causal response of AB109 on jail systems and local communities, using a difference-in-difference with continuous treatment identification strategy. We find that increases in inflows of 1170(h) offenders resulting from AB109 caused significant increases in the early release of sentenced inmates from county jails, and that counties with greater treatment doses saw slight increases in employment and no corresponding increases in crime rates. This paper updates an earlier wave of studies of the impact of AB109 using new empirical methods and a new labor market outcomes. The third chapter considers a model of government allocation of resources and management across space that may result in differential policy outcomes, applied to policing. The extent and quality of provision of public services in the United States depends on where you live. Ideally, government services are equally provided for all, regardless of location. Existing research has argued this is not the case, but most research is confounded by factors that correlate with location. We employ a spatial regression discontinuity design using Dallas Police Division boundaries to test differences in response times and crime clearance rates that allows us to assess a causal effect of location. Our results show that even controlling for crime type and call priority, there are meaningful differences across Dallas Division boundaries in police response, including as much as 18% higher response times and 29% lower clearance rates across border pairs. This suggests that divisions are allocating resources or engaging in management practices in ways that produce differential outcomes across those divisions. We also demonstrate that these outcomes are correlated with income, race, and population size using a value added analysis. This research shows important differences in public security access and outcomes for individuals depending on their proximity to policing services and area demographics.