Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Economics

First Advisor

Holger Sieg

Abstract

This dissertation consists of three chapters on topics in public economics. The

first chapter examines the labor market for public school teachers in Wisconsin. By

stitching together publicly available cross-sectional data to form a 20-year panel of

teachers, I am able to replicate and extend the work of Hanushek, Kain and Rivkin

who performed a similar analysis in Texas. The main takeaway is that teachers ap-

pear to select on wages, but that student characteristics appear more important in

predicting teacher churn. In the second chapter, I present short-term analysis of a

randomized-controlled trial designed to test the efficacy of active learning methods

for teaching intermediate calculus to first-year college students. The results were in-

conclusive, suggesting substantial heterogeneity in student preferences and aptitudes

for different styles of learning. The final chapter presents the analysis of a large-scale

randomized-controlled trial evaluating the potential for messaging-based nudges to

elicit increased real estate tax compliance in Philadelphia. Our primary conclusions

are that most proposed messaging strategies are indistinguishable from a plainly-

worded reminder bill (the exception being consequentialist letters threatening repercussive

action absent compliance), but that the saliency per se of a plainly-worded

bill can induce late payers to remunerate more quickly.

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