Three essays in the economics of health care and education
- This dissertation explores a number of issues in the economics of education and health care. The first chapter, co-authored with Bassam Kadry, M.D., Joseph Orsini, Igor Popov, and Christopher Press, M.D., starts by noting that a large body of literature argues that a large fraction of the increasing health care costs in the United States is due to the increasing prevalence of obesity. Yet most of these studies focus only on the degree to which obesity is correlated with the number of procedures an individual undergoes. If obesity also increases the cost of a procedure, the previous estimates understate the medical cost of obesity. We illustrate this point in the context of hip replacement surgery. We find that obesity does increase the cost of surgery and that ignoring this margin underestimates the cost of obesity by approximately 5%. This suggests that potential savings from obesity reduction programs are larger than previously thought. In the second chapter, I use the fact that multiple elementary schools feed into the same middle school to demonstrate that the positive impact that teachers have on their own students spills over to affect their students' future peers. Although this indirect effect on any particular individual is small, a teacher impacts many more students indirectly than directly, so the indirect value is a sizable portion of a teacher's total value; I find that ignoring teachers' indirect effects underestimates their value by roughly 35%. Because the spillovers also affect teacher value added estimates, I develop a method of moments estimator of teacher value added that accounts for the spillovers and show that accounting for the spillovers does not have a large impact on the ranking of teachers in New York City. I conclude by showing that the spillovers occur within groups of students who share the same race and gender, which highlights the crucial importance that the social network plays in disseminating the effect. Finally, the third chapter, co-authored with Michael Dinerstein, attempts to shed some light on how incentivizing teachers to increase their students' test score affects the way teachers behave, since this is an extremely important input to many education policy decisions. Exploiting a dramatic change in the way teachers in New York City were granted tenure, we provide evidence that incentivizing teacher value added leads to small but statistically significant increases in the teachers value added scores. This increase, however, comes at a cost: the test score gains these teachers cause in their students fade-out more rapidly than similar gains caused by non-incentivized teachers, which suggests a change in the way incentivized teachers direct their attention. Yet, at this point, both of these effects appear small relative to the potential changes this policy could have on the teachers entering and exiting the profession.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Opper, Isaac M
|Stanford University, Department of Economics.
|Hoxby, Caroline Minter
|Hoxby, Caroline Minter
|Statement of responsibility
|Isaac M. Opper.
|Submitted to the Department of Economics.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2016.
- © 2016 by Isaac Mueller Opper
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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