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Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.
Political rallies have formed a large part of electoral campaigns in developed and developing countries. Chapter 2 of this thesis presents a model of candidates’ rally decisions during an election. In this model, candidates compete across states by holding political rallies to increase their relative local popularity. They aim to be relatively popular in as many states as possible on election day. The rally decisions are made over time, and the relative local popularity of candidates exhibits decay. The model exhibits a unique Subgame Perfect Nash Equilibrium. The equilibrium strategies predict that as elections approach, candidates gradually rally more in states where the relative popularity is on the margin. The chapter also discusses comparative statics with respect to the model's key parameters. Chapter 3 estimates the model to uncover rally effectiveness for the 2012 and 2016 U.S. presidential elections. Estimates uncover that rallies by presidential candidates were effective in increasing their poll margin lead over their opponents. The estimates also reveal that a rally by a presidential candidate is more persuasive than a television ad. I construct and execute model selection tests that infer whether candidates are strategic and forward-looking to validate model assumptions. Counterfactual exercises show that Trump’s rallies were electorally pivotal, while rallies by other candidates did not affect their chances of winning. The effects of short-term campaign silences (i.e., forbidding political campaigning) are limited since candidates can gain sufficient support from the electorate before campaign silences begin. Chapter 4 extends the model in Chapter 2 for the case of Indian General Elections. The extended model is estimated using a Metropolis-Hastings algorithm. The chapter finds that rallies in India were more persuasive than in the U.S. Moreover, unlike the U.S., total rallies by both candidates were electorally pivotal. The Indian General Elections are held in a staggered format. If the elections were simultaneous, then the National Democratic Alliance would suffer considerable loss in their parliamentary seats and majority winning chances. I also discuss the limitations and the future direction of this study.
This thesis consists of three essays on urban structure and dynamics. These essays use empirical tools from empirical industrial organization and applied microeconomics to examine how cities grow and change. Access to high-quality local services constitutes an important amenity in residents' valuation of cities. In "Industry dynamics and the value of variety in nightlife: evidence from Chicago", I examine consumer preferences for variety in nightlife to understand these preferences and their impact on nightlife industry dynamics. I develop a structural dynamic model for venue entry and exit in the nightlife industry and estimate the model using a panel of liquor license data from Chicago. I find strong preferences for variety. My results suggest that in equilibrium a new entrant can increase profits for incumbent venues in some cases due to increased demand. However, potential entrants face high barriers to entry. In "Land value gradients and the level and growth of housing prices", coauthor Tom Davidoff and I ask whether urban land rent gradients affect the level and growth of housing rents and prices. We use residential rents and the location of Starbucks stores to proxy for land prices, and calculate a gradient measure that allows for multiple peaks of land rent within a metropolitan area. Our measures of land rent gradients are significantly associated with high and rising prices, and explain some of the cross-sectional variation in prices. However, our measure does not explain the abnormally high rent and prices in Pacific and Northeastern coastal "Superstar Cities."Bartik shocks are widely used as an instrument for local labour demand. A potential concern with this instrument is potential endogeneity in the presence of correlation between city-level industrial composition and the outcome variable of interest. In "A control function approach to the correlated components of Bartik shocks", I formalize this endogeneity concern and introduce a control function correction that, given additional assumptions, addresses the potential endogeneity. I demonstrate the application of this novel approach by estimating a housing supply function.