Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Applied Economics

First Advisor

Todd Sinai


This dissertation consists of three chapters. In the first chapter of the dissertation, I propose a new method for estimating the racial tipping points of US neighborhoods. Applying this method to US census data, I find that the average neighborhood tipping point has increased from 15% in 1970 to 42% in 2010. Moreover, I find that from 1970-2010 that differences in racial preferences play a diminishing role in explaining cross city differences in tipping points. Differences in the outside options of white householdâ??s, on the other hand, play an increasingly important role in explaining cross city differences in tipping points from 1970-2010.

In the second chapter of the dissertation, which is joint work with Kent Smetters, we document an important fact about Ivy League Schools. In the past 13 years the demand for undergraduate admission to Ivy League schools has doubled while the number of available spaces has increased by less than 3%. We show that this pattern can be explained by a model in which elite schools restrict supply in order to maintain their relative selectivity. Focusing on Harvard, Yale and Princeton, we find that the resulting loss in social surplus is an average of $73M for each school (annually), with producers (schools) bearing the larger absolute loss in social surplus and consumers (students) bearing the larger relative loss in social surplus.

In the third chapter of this dissertation, I use a two country treatment-control design to study an economic policy in the Bahamas that restricted the property rights of non-natives. Contrary to the prevailing view in the development literature that restricted property rights reduces GDP growth; I find that GDP growth in the Bahamas increased while this policy was in place (relative to a peer country Barbados, which did not have a similar policy). When the policy is repealed, I find that there are large inflows of foreign capital to the Bahamas with no corresponding increase in GDP growth. This study highlights the importance of differentiating between the property rights of natives and non-natives as separate channels for promoting economic growth in small developing countries.