Essays on the economics of state policy reform
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Lately, the debate over various public policies, such as immigration reform and tax policy, has heated up in the United States. This dissertation seeks to explore the different impacts that some of the policy changes have on different groups of people. In doing so, I am able to help better inform policymakers of the possible economic outcomes of future reforms. The first chapter examines the labor market impacts of two state-level immigration policies designed to reduce the presence of undocumented immigrants: E-Verify and "Show Me Your Papers" (SMYP). Using a difference-in-difference strategy, I examine the separate and combined effects of these laws on the employment and wages of likely unauthorized, working-age men and women and the groups of low-skill American workers with whom they are most likely to compete for jobs. I also look at how these laws impact state-level economic outcomes, including industry- specific GDP. I find that immigration reform reduces employment and hourly wages among undocumented men. Immigration reform also results in large, negative impacts on state GDP, especially in industries that rely more heavily on undocumented workers. The second chapter examines the questions of whether consumers respond differently to taxes of different salience levels and if there is heterogeneity in consumer tax salience across income groups and other categorical groups such as age and education groups. I find evidence supporting tax salience theory in the market for alcohol. Additionally, I find evidence of heterogeneity in tax salience effects across different education levels. In particular, more educated consumers are more responsive to changes in sales taxes. The third chapter focuses on the impacts of immigration reform on the children of undocumented immigrants. By comparing siblings in a difference-in-difference approach, I show that DACA, a policy that reduces legal barriers for young undocumented immigrants, increases the educational attainment of potentially eligible youth. Meanwhile, policies such as Alabama HB 56, which increase barriers for undocumented immigrants, reduce the enrollment rates and increase dropout rates for the children of undocumented immigrants.