PhD Dissertations in Public Policy

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This collection is updated quarterly. For the most complete record of electronic dissertations please see the ETD Collection.


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Now showing 1 - 20 of 45
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    The effect of the policy of reconstitution on student achievement in Texas
    (2015-12) Cumpton, Gregory, 1972-; Lincove, Jane Arnold; King, Chris; Reyes, Pedro; Stolp, Chandler; Triesman, Uri
    The failure of schools across the country to ensure students meet federal, state, and community standards continuously plagues the education system. More than a quarter of all schools in the nation failed to meet federal requirements in 2007, with 38% failing to do so in 2010. By 2011 that figure rose to nearly 50%. Failing schools ostensibly produce failing students who experience poorer outcomes than their peers including reduced earnings over their lifetime. A potential solution to failing schools is to reconstitute them. School reconstitution requires all staff at a failing school to reapply for their positions with the stated aim of improving student achievement. Started as a court-mandated desegregation action in San Francisco in 1983, school reconstitution quickly spread across the country in the 1990s. Incorporated into local and state accountability systems, scholars estimate thousands of schools reconstituted between 1983 and 2011. Despite its prevalence, information regarding how reconstitution began, spread, and made its way into Texas statute is scarce and theories related to why reconstitution should improve student performance lack cohesion. Even worse, little to no quantitative evidence demonstrates whether reconstitution improves student achievement. This dissertation takes advantage of a Texas law passed in 2003 mandating that schools failing to meet state standards for two years in a row must reconstitute. Estimated effects of reconstitution on student achievement apply state-wide student and school data between 2003 and 2011. Several methods, including regression discontinuity and student-level fixed-effects determine whether reconstitution improves student achievement and if developed theories explain this improvement. Discussion includes national, state, and local policy recommendations.
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    The role of the Pastoral da Criança program in the infant mortality transition in Brazil, 1980-2000
    (2015-08) Fujiwara, Luis Mario, 1971-; Stolp, Chandler; Potter, Joseph E.; Roberts, Bryan; Wilson, Robert; Wong, Patrick
    This dissertation focuses on the role Brazil’s innovative Pastoral da Criança program had on the transition in infant and child mortality observed in that country from 1980 to 2000. Using a variety of approaches to program evaluation, this study provides insights into the novel implementation of the Pastoral program and its overall effectiveness in contributing to the infant and child mortality transition in Brazil. This dissertation also tries to understand how it was that the Pastoral managed to succeed in promoting development when so many other efforts have failed in the past. Given the environment of complexity in which this evaluative exercise was carried out, triangulation, complementarity, development, initiation, and expansion analysis were used, at the micro level of evidence, to the macro level of methods, to generate robust estimations of the Pastoral overall impact in terms of reducing infant and child mortality, as well as of the Pastoral’s effects in terms of promoting community and women’s empowerment.
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    What has been the preliminary impact of federal programs to promote the adoption of electronic health records?
    (2015-05) Palmer, Stephen Charles; Warner, David C.; Heinrich, Carolyn; Osborne, Cynthia; Sage, William; Richardson, Sam
    The objective of this study is to assess the preliminary impact of federal programs established to promote the adoption of EHRs on the patterns, rates, and levels of EHR adoption. Statewide surveys of physicians and hospitals in Texas fielded between 2010 and 2012 are supplemented with other data, and then analyzed with logistic regression modeling, technology diffusion models, and regression discontinuity designs, supplemented with key informant interviews. The models did not consistently yield large or significant effect estimates. The logit models did not show any significant changes in the patterns of EHR adoption. The technology diffusion models showed a small, significant effect on adoption rates. The regression discontinuity (RD) design models showed a moderate, insignificant effect of the programs on adoption levels. Overall, the data and methods used in this study do not support the claim that the federal EHR promotion programs had a significant effect.
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    Targeting education to reduce obesity : at what life stages are interventions effective?
    (2015-05) Benson, Rebecca Irene Josephine; Angel, Jacqueline Lowe; von Hippel, Paul T.; Cubbin, Catherine; Hayward, Mark; Heinrich, Carolyn
    Obesity is a serious policy problem, contributing an estimated $113.9b to medical expenditures in the US. Like many health outcomes, obesity is not distributed at random in the population but is concentrated amongst the less educated. Given this, many have suggested that if more people were to become highly educated, the obesity epidemic might be curtailed. However, this assumes that the association between education and obesity is a causal one, which is not necessarily the case. Moreover, previous research in lifecourse epidemiology suggests that education may occur too late in the lifecourse to have any effect on health trajectory. I perform three empirical studies to examine whether there is a plausibly causal relationship between education and body weight, and examine whether there is a point at which it is too late to alter body weight trajectories using education. All three studies use data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79), a complex random sample of the US civilian population aged 14-22 in 1978 and followed for more than three decades. In the first study, a cross-sectional regression finds a relationship between education and BMI. I use fixed effects models with individual slopes to test whether gaining a qualification leads to a change in BMI while controlling for individual heterogeneity, and find there is no effect. In study two, I consider the effects of education completed “on-time” with education completed “late”. Fixed effects models show that women who earn bachelor’s degrees on time benefit from lower BMI, but there is no benefit for late degrees or other qualifications and men do not similarly benefit. The third study stratifies the analysis by early-life circumstances and finds that in a cross-sectional analysis at age 45 only the most advantaged strata benefited from having earned a bachelor’s degree. In fixed effects models, gaining a degree did not lead to a change in BMI for any group. Collectively, these findings cast doubt on education’s viability as a policy tool to address obesity, and suggest that at some point in the lifecourse it is too late to alter BMI trajectories by improving socio-economic status.
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    Demographic diversity in the measurement and meaning of unintended pregnancy
    (2014-08) Aiken, Abigail R. A.; Osborne, Cynthia Anne, 1969-; Potter, Joseph E.
    Unintended pregnancy is a significant public policy issue in the United States, yet current understanding of the measurement and meaning of women’s pregnancy intentions is incomplete. The aim of this dissertation is to provide new theoretical insight into women’s childbearing intentions and feelings about pregnancy, particularly when these two measures appear to be incongruent (i.e. women report feeling happy about pregnancy, but at the same time report wanting no more children). Incongruence is particularly common among Hispanic women, and current literature tends to view such women as ambivalent, assuming that they lack a clear and strong desire to avoid conception. Ambivalence, in turn, has been linked to less effective contraceptive use. Using a mixed-methods approach, this dissertation examines the hypothesis that incongruent intentions and feelings are not necessarily a reflection of ambivalence but rather two distinct concepts: women may be quite resolute about avoiding future pregnancies, yet for various reasons still express happiness at the prospect of a pregnancy. In Chapter 1, we examine prospectively measured happiness and intentions among a cohort of Latina pill-users at the U.S.-Mexico border, providing evidence that feelings of happiness about pregnancy may co-exist with effective use of contraception and with plans to continue method use long-term to prevent conception. In Chapter 2, we investigate the relationship between happiness and contraceptive desires, demonstrating that women with incongruent intentions and feelings often desire highly effective or permanent methods that they do not have the ability to access. Finally, in Chapter 3, we explore the concepts of happiness and intentions and the factors underlying each from women’s own perspectives through in-depth interviews, and provide a range of explanations for why happiness about pregnancy may be expressed even when another child would be a significant financial or emotional burden. Findings strongly suggest that automatically classifying women with incongruent intentions and feelings as ambivalent may lead to inaccurate measurement of unintended pregnancy, hinder understanding of the difficulties these women face in obtaining effective contraception, and limit the ability to devise strategies to prevent unintended pregnancy and address disparities across racial and ethnic groups.
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    Emotional and Spiritual Security
    (Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 1960) McDanald, Eugene C. Jr.
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    Saving water in farming : methodology for water conservation verification efforts in the agricultural sector
    (2013-05) Ramirez Huerta, Ana Karina; Eaton, David J.
    This dissertation develops, tests and validates statistical methods for verifying the amount of water conserved as a result of investments in precision leveling, other on-farm conservation measures in place, weather variation and farmer behavior. This evaluation uses a sample of 328 unique fields from Lakeside Irrigation Division in Texas over a six-year period, totaling 966 observations. Results show that precision leveling accounts for a 0.30 acre-feet reduction of irrigation water per acre leveled. This Mixed-Level Model (MLM) estimate for precision leveling water savings is more precise than the estimates either from an Ordinary Least Square Model or a Fixed Effect Model. A meta analysis combines the results from this model with other similar studies. Although the mean estimate of the meta-analysis is similar to the MLM estimate, the meta-analysis further reduces the standard error of the mean precision leveling estimate by 2 percent. A better approximation of the acre-feet water savings per acre farmed translates into less uncertainty for water regulators, managers and policymakers regarding the volume of conserved water that is available for transfer.
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    The path to timely completion : supply- and demand-side analyses of time to bachelor's degree completion
    (2014-05) Cullinane, Jennifer Page; Lincove, Jane Arnold; Treisman, Uri
    Time to degree is a key factor in institutional productivity and managing the costs of college for students and families. While there is a robust body of empirical and theoretical work addressing baccalaureate degree completion and persistence, much less is known about the factors that affect time to degree. Most importantly, the institutional factors associated with time to degree have been largely unexamined, with a primary focus on the characteristics of students who delay graduation. As a result, it is unclear if students or institutions should be the target of policy interventions. This dissertation is comprised of three quantitative studies that examine supply- and demand-side factors that contribute to timely—or not so timely—completion using statewide longitudinal student-level data from Texas. The first study uses a discrete-time hazard model to analyze a rich set of institutional and student factors that influence the choice between on-time graduation, late graduation, dropout, and ongoing enrollment. The second explores the impact of student transfer on time to degree and one possible mechanism for delay using propensity score matching analysis. The third examines excess credit accumulation, specifically how the number of credits an institution requires for graduation affects student course-taking behavior using fixed effects analysis. Results suggest time to degree is a complex phenomenon and both student and institutional factors are significantly associated with time to degree. Student transfer and credit requirements are associated with excess credit accumulation and longer times to degree. Supply side policy strategies targeting institutional resources, transfer, and graduation credits are promising, although there is evidence that strategies aimed at improving efficiency can be in tension with strategies that improve equity in higher education and degree completion.
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    Mexico’s national security framework in the context of an interdependent world : a comparative architecture approach
    (2013-08) Martinez Espinosa, Cesar Alfredo; Ward, Peter M., 1951-
    In a more complex and interdependent world, nations face new challenges that threaten their national security. National security should not be understood exclusively in the way of military threats by adversarial states but in a broader way: how old and new sectoral threats affect not only a state and its institutions but a nation as a whole, physically and economically. This dissertation looks into how the nature of security threats and risks has evolved in recent years. This dissertation then explores how different nations have decided to publish national security strategy documents and analyzes the way in which they include this broadened understanding of security: it finds that there is evidence of international policy diffusion related to the publication of such security strategies and that nations are evolving towards a broader understanding of security that includes models like whole-of-government, and whole-of-society. In the second half, this dissertation analyzes the route through which Mexico has reformed its national security framework since the year 2000 through a policy streams approach. After looking at the path that led to the creation of Mexico’s modern national security institutions, it analyzes the way in which Mexico national interests can be determined and how these interests inform the way in which Mexico understands national security threats and risks in the 21st Century.
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    From growth-based to people-centered : how Chinese leaders have modified their governing strategies to sustain legitimacy in the reform era
    (2013-12) Zhang, Wenjie, active 2013; Galbraith, James K.
    This dissertation analyzes changes in the ruling strategies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the context of economic reforms, beginning in 1978. By employing both quantitative and qualitative methods, this dissertation investigates how Chinese leaders have utilized legitimating strategies, while modifying their governing strategies, in order to a) solidify the population, b) consolidate ruling authority and c) maintain political and social stability. Specifically, this dissertation looks at how Chinese policymakers have developed effective public policies in response to rapidly rising wage inequality, one of the most pressing problems undermining the CCP’s ruling authority. By providing an original estimate of China’s wage inequality and analyzing the government’s response to it, this dissertation provides a unique look at how the CCP has transformed government functions from growth-based to people-centered to meet various social, political and economic challenges. A comparative statistical analysis helps illustrate the philosophical roots and sources of the CCP’s political legitimacy. The technique of Theil Statistics is applied to measure China’s wage inequality during the reform period. A multivariate hierarchical regression analysis is employed to measure the impact of rising inequality on Chinese society. Two models on social welfare system reform are studied in order to understand Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao’s people-centered governing philosophy and the rationale for constructing a service-oriented government.
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    The people’s web : government as nexus
    (2011-08) Newell, Angela Marie; Ward, Peter M., 1951-
    With the advent of new interactive Internet technologies in government, a move from the transactional loop of electronic government to a more web-like structure of interaction is anticipated for government information systems. It has been argued that that web-like structure of information systems will dictate a new organizational form for government organization. Explored within the dissertation are two primary research questions. The first research question relates to understanding the nature of adoption of new interactive Internet tools in government agencies and whether that adoption differs from the adoption process for transactional systems. To understand the nature of interactive technology adoption, presidential directives, legislation, and laws implementing transactional and interactive information systems are evaluated. Discovered in evaluation are the motivating factors in technology adoption and related technology adoption and organizational outcomes. Accompanying that evaluation is an exploration of the new technologies being used by government agencies as a part of the technology adoption process. To understand the nature of the differences in infrastructure of information systems associated with transactional information technologies and interactive information technologies, a series of case studies were developed. For each case, an exploration of the technology implemented and a map of the Internet architecture for the technology were constructed. Findings suggest that the adoption process and the information system architecture of transactional and interactive technologies are different. Though it is too early in the adoption and implementation process to discern any impacts to the government organization, the technology adoption and implementation is couched in larger organizational theory. Extrapolations are made to address the future form of the government organization and policy outcomes for continued implementation of interactive systems and the organizational impacts are discussed. The second research question relates to the value associated with the implementation of new interactive Internet technologies. To understand any value associated with implementation of technologies, a qualitative assessment of the value conversations within government agencies was conducted, an assessment of citizen value ranking of data was undertaken, and a quantitative analysis of differences in customer service scores given the use of interactive information technologies is conducted. This analysis is triangulated against a historical evaluation of increasing and decreasing scores and an exploration of specific evaluations conducted for interactive technology projects. Findings suggest that that there is value in implementing interactive Internet technologies. However, that signal is weak. A suggestion of research is that evaluation metrics be developed to understand the value of implementing of interactive technologies. Policy suggestions are outlined for technology value evaluation. The concluding outcome of the dissertation is a suggestion of a path forward for interactive Internet technology development in government and an argument for the construct of the emerging organizational structure associated with information organizations.
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    Finding a reasonable aquifer yield : support methods for groundwater policy in Texas
    (2013-05) Petrossian, Rima; Eaton, David J.
    Managing groundwater can be difficult because there is no common perspective among stakeholders about what they wish for their desired future conditions (DFCs) for Texas' aquifers. Conflicts over how to manage aquifers, whether to mine or sustain groundwater levels are complicated by diverse state and local approaches. This dissertation proposes a decision support method to derive acceptable future aquifer conditions through engaging stakeholders by combining five processes: landowner surveys, stakeholder and decision maker focus groups, contingent valuation, system element identification and scenario-testing. Surveys of water users identified conflicts among water users and decision makers' preferences. For example, how much is groundwater worth in Texas? Responses to two survey questions revealed a willingness to buy groundwater for an average of $2,872 per acre-foot. Most landowners most did not want to sell groundwater at any cost. Those willing to sell revealed an average of $4,069 per acre-foot. A survey of landowners and decision makers indicated that 41 percent of landowners indicated that no new users be issued permits to support stable Trinity Aquifer groundwater levels. Meanwhile, the decision makers chose a DFC of a 30 foot drawdown in the Trinity Aquifer over 50 years. Stakeholder surveys identified the 'best groundwater decision makers' as being the stakeholders or well owners, yet 75 percent of the decision makers preferred the groundwater conservation district board presidents. This suggests that stakeholders would prefer to be the decision makers rather than being asked for their preferences. One decision-maker focus group identified 12 elements representing their understanding of the DFC process. These elements form a system information diagram or preference map. Such a map can help identify alternative pathways for solving problems in the decision process. These complexities remain challenging as Texas moves toward more local regulatory control, more competing interests, and less certainty about Texas' future groundwater supply.
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    An empirical evaluation on how regulatory and market factors affect title insurance charges
    (2013-05) Zou, Beibei; Eaton, David J.
    The objective of this dissertation is to evaluate how regulatory and market factors affect title insurance charges in different states. As substantial components of home purchase closing costs, title insurance charges have been controversial for decades, and both practitioners and analysts have pointed out apparent variations in title insurance charges among states. Although existing studies have suggested a set of regulatory and market factors as explanations for these among-state variations, empirical evaluations are limited. To fill in this gap, this dissertation empirically assesses whether these factors influence title insurance charges. The research outcomes of these dissertation indicate that after taking into account market factors such as services included in title insurance charges, title-related losses, property values, state populations, home sale volumes, housing prices, and income levels, regulation styles can still partially explain the title insurance charge variations in different states. In particular, states with promulgation regulation can have a higher average title insurance charge than states allowing free competition. This dissertation also tests whether regulation affects title insurance charges by influencing competition in the market and whether regulators' characteristics are related to the effect of regulation on charges. The test results imply that appointed commissioners can be associated with a higher average title insurance charge than elected commissioners. This dissertation provides insights into the title insurance regulatory reform in different states. More broadly, one methodology (multiple model for change) used in this dissertation simultaneously assesses regulation's over-time and state-by-state effects on title insurance charges, which contributes to the development of regulation evaluation methods. The outcomes of this dissertation can also provide empirical evidence to the theoretical debate of regulation versus competition.
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    Sign of contradiction? religious cultural heritage and the nuclear paradox of Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan
    (2013-08) Muzas, Brian Keenan; Gavin, Francis J.; Inboden, William, 1972-
    Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald W. Reagan embody a paradox. All three presidents made nuclear decisions ranging from hawkish and belligerent to dovish and restrained. How can such marked differences be explained? I argue that religious cultural heritage (RCH) can provide a parsimonious link which unifies the seemingly disparate nuclear choices of these presidents. I propose a theory to connect religious cultural heritage, decision-making frameworks, and nuclear choices. I apply this theory to Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan at the individual level of analysis. Since these three presidents were immersed in a Christian cultural milieu, I move beyond the simplistic treatment of religion as a proxy for morality to explore both Christian thought on war and the philosophical ethics, philosophy of government, and philosophy of human nature which underlie Christian thought. Using secondary and primary sources including archival research, I analyze each president and his nuclear decisions. Each presidential chapter presents the RCH of each president, pieces together each worldview, establishes patterns of thought and patterns of action, and analyzes a number of salient nuclear decisions ranging from choices in the midst of crises to programs for nuclear sharing and cooperation. In the final chapter I discuss and integrate my findings through the lenses of history and policy science, present avenues for future work, and draw policy lessons which can be applied today.
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    Intergenerational transfers over the adult life cycle in three European welfare state regimes
    (2013-05) Mudrazija, Stipica; Angel, Jacqueline Lowe
    Rapid population aging driven by increasing life expectancy and falling birthrates has resulted in substantial increases in the old-age dependency ratio and decreases in the ratio of workers to retirees in all developed nations. In this context, some policymakers look to the support role of the family to moderate the effects of potentially shrinking public support. Yet, relatively little is known about the flow of transfers between family generations across the life cycle or the influence of public policy on the size and timing of those transfers. A core objective of this dissertation is to study the nature and net value of family transfers, defined in terms of the financial value of various types of transfers parents give to children (e.g., money, care and help, grandchild care, and co-residence) net of the value of the same types transfers they receive from children. Data for this study come primarily from the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe, and the sample includes 36,095 parent-child dyads from 11 European countries representing social democratic, conservative, and traditional welfare-state regimes. Time transfers are monetized using information on minimum and average hourly wages. The net value of intergenerational family transfers over the adult life cycle is estimated using piecewise linear spline regression. The findings reveal that intergenerational family transfers are nontrivial across mature European welfare states. Their net value follows a nonlinear pattern of positive transfers from parents to grown children until advanced old age when the net value declines sharply and ultimately becomes negative--the point at which the generational exchange starts mostly to benefit parents. The transition starts later and is less pronounced across more generous welfare states in Northern Europe, while the opposite is true of less generous welfare states in Southern Europe. Transfer behavior of parents and grown children across Europe is most consistent with the need for help and ability to give. The results demonstrate that assessments of the effects of public policies affecting intergenerational redistribution of resources would benefit from taking into account how family members of different generations redistribute resources due to changes in those policies.
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    The social geography of industrial pollution in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires
    (2012-12) Ramírez Cuesta, Alejandra Elisa; Ward, Peter M., 1951-; Wilson, Robert H; Roberts, Bryan R; Auyero, Javier; Miller, Jannifer A; Gamkhar, Shama
    The purpose of this study is to investigate the driving factors of population exposure to sources of environmental pollution and to determine if poor neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to negative environmental externalities. This research also examines whether the concentration of polluting industries within neighborhoods of different socio-economic levels varies over time. To determine the causes of the spatial coincidence between population and industrial polluters, this study employs a mixed-methods approach. Quantitatively, this study uses an exploratory approach to capture the effects of poverty and segregation on the density of hazardous industries. This methodological approach models the spatial variation of the relationship between poverty and pollution. Qualitatively, a cross-case comparative analysis is conducted on two different socio-economic neighborhoods to trace the causes of continuity or change in industrial density. The study finds that polluting industries tend to be distributed homogenously across neighborhoods of different socio-economic backgrounds and that poverty and segregation are not mayor drivers of that distribution. On the contrary, the relationship between poor and segregated and industries presents spatial variation and it is localized in some specific areas. The case-studies comparison, moreover, indicates that the spatial concentration of hazardous industries varies over time, decreasing slightly in a middle-class neighborhood and increasing in a poor neighborhood. This is explained by: i) economic constraints and opportunities to the local economy determine the permanence of polluting activities; ii) middle-class collective actions to live in a better environment contribute to expel polluting activities from the neighborhood in the long run; and iii), local political practices and the lack of alternatives and resources to access the formal land market means that the poor face tremendous environmental burdens which traps them in a noxious environment. Several policy implications arise from this research; first, access to information, transparency, and environmental law enforcement must be strengthened in order to underpin equity and common standards across the city. Second, local governments should weigh and balance the need for housing and development, and the environmental consequences when establishing zoning ordinances. Third, policies and resources should be targeted towards residents, especially those poorer residents that are most at risk.
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    Potential contribution of a carbon offset scheme to the costs of greenhouse gas emissions reductions in developing countries
    (2012-12) Partridge, Ian Alexander; Gamkhar, Shama; Groat, Charles G.; Webber, Michael; Baldick, Ross; Rai, Varun
    The energy sector in the developing world is expected to account for 27% of global emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion in 2035 – in 1990 it accounted for 7%. The increase is concentrated in rapidly growing countries in Asia that depend on coal for power generation. Maximizing electricity generation using renewable technologies in these countries provides an obvious approach to slowing global emissions growth. A barrier to increased use of renewable generation is cost: financial incentives could help to increase its use in developing countries. The principal objective of this research is to examine the practicability and potential scale of an offset scheme aimed at providing this incentive. Offset schemes have a poor reputation due to problems experienced with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). I identify the CDM’s failure to ensure the additionality of projects as a key issue and propose an approach to the assessment of additionality specific to grid connected generation projects. I present case studies of wind and small hydro projects in China and India in which I calculate the marginal abatement cost of emissions cuts and use the new approach to additionality to draw conclusions regarding the eligibility of projects to receive offsets in some hypothetical future scheme. My analysis shows that the proposed approach offers advantages over methodologies permitted by the CDM. I analyze the supply and demand for credits from existing schemes during 2013-2020 and show that oversupply will continue to impact their price, removing any incentive for investment in renewable generation. Using an original approach based on IEA forecasts for the energy sector, I estimate the maximum availability of offsets from a post-2020 scheme based on renewable generation, and assess the potential global demand.
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    Randomized controlled trials to evaluate impact : their challenges and policy implications for medicine, education, and international development
    (2012-12) Kahlert, Rahel C.; Ward, Peter M., 1951-; Treisman, Uri; Galbraith, James; Osborne, Cynthia; Roberts, Bryan
    Policy makers in education and international development have lately gravitated toward the randomized controlled trial (RCT)—an evaluation design that randomly assigns a sample of people or households into an intervention group and a control group in order to measure the differential effect of the intervention—as a means to determine program impact. As part of federal regulations, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Agency for International development explicitly declared a preference for the RCT. When advocating for adopting the RCT model as the preferred evaluation tool, policy makers point to the success story of medical trials and how they revolutionized medicine from Medieval charlatanry to a modern life-saving discipline. By presenting a more nuanced account of the role of the RCT in medical history, however, this study finds that landmark RCTs were accompanied with challenges, Evidence-Based Medicine had rightful critics, and opportunistic biases in drug trials apply equally to education policy and international development. This study also examines the recent privileged role of the RCT in education and international development, concluding that its initial promise was not entirely born out when put into practice, as the national Reading First Initiative exemplifies. From a comparative perspective, the RCT movements also encountered major RCT critics, whose voices were not initially heard. These voices, however, seem to have contributed to a swing of the pendulum away from RCT primacy back towards greater methodological pluralism. A major conclusion of this study is that policy makers should exercise great caution when using RCTs as a policy evaluation tool. This conclusion is arrived at via considering RCT biases, challenges, and limited generalizability; understanding its interpretive-qualitative components; and broadening the overall methodological repertoire to better enable evaluations of macro-policy interventions.
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    Using science to innovate : explaining productivity in the pharmaceutical industry innovation activities
    (2012-08) Stone, Alexandra Bella; Dukerich, Janet M.; Stolp, Chandler; Wilson, Robert; Osborne, Cynthia; Callan, Benedicte; Henderson, Andrew
    Scientific and technological (S&T) advances underpin opportunities for innovation in the pharmaceutical industry. Government-funded research institutions and firms perform biomedical research to generate S&T advances and enable pharmaceutical innovation. Previous research found that the number of new drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stagnated. The observed stagnation has been interpreted as a decline in the return on research investments. The apparent decline in productivity may be due to the increasing technological difficulty of using S&T advances to develop new drugs and the organizational complexity of incorporating S&T advances generated by government-funded research institutions and firms to develop a new drug. I apply theories of organizational learning to examine how the use of S&T advances to develop new drugs affects the productivity of drug development activities, measured as the time taken to complete early stage pre-clinical research and late stage clinical development activities. I have constructed a novel data set that maps the production and utilization of S&T advances in three phases of market-oriented drug development. By measuring productivity at the project level, I am able to model productivity as the time taken to complete a R&D project as a function of three factors: (1) the technological characteristics of the drug; (2) the use of components generated by other entities; and (3) the research capabilities of the innovating firm. These models enable me to identify technological and organizational factors that affect the efficiency with which S&T advances are transformed into new drugs. Analyses indicate that different technological and organizational factors affect the productivity of pre-clinical research and clinical development. While the time taken to complete a pre-clinical research project is largely determined by the complexity and innovativeness of the drug, the time taken to complete clinical development is a function of the firm's R&D previous experience. The time taken to complete the entire drug development project is determined by the complexity of pre-clinical research and the firm's R&D capabilities. The results are discussed in detail along with policy implications.
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    Sustainable cities : agenda setting and implementation of sustainability initiatives in U.S. cities
    (2008-12) Saha, Devashree; Wilson, Robert Hines; Paterson, Robert G.