Four essays on public economics
This dissertation contains four papers on public economics. The first chapter analyzes consumer’s responses to sales tax rates and sales tax rate changes using a combination of the interview and diary portions of the Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) and a novel data set of the timing and type of state sales tax rate changes in a stacked regression methodology. No evidence is found to support the claim that higher sales tax rates lead to lower gross household expenditures, and suggestive evidence is found that consumers respond more strongly to sales tax changes mandated by popular vote rather than by the state legislature. The second chapter examines how hospitals have responded to the Medicaid expansion of 2014 using hospital cost reports from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in difference-in-differences and event study empirical models. The Medicaid expansion clearly resulted in higher Medicaid payments and lower costs of treating the uninsured, as well as higher capital balances. I also find suggestive evidence that the number of full-time equivalents hired by hospitals also increased. The last two are coauthored and focused on the nomination process and economic impact of Opportunity Zones respectively. In the first, my coauthors and I use a logit model to predict the likelihood of opportunity zone nomination using data from the American Community Survey data and Ballotpedia.com. We find that overall, the nomination process was technocratic, but political variables mattered on the margins. In the final chapter, my coauthors and I combine the universe of all Florida real estate transactions with the data from the previous paper and use instrumental variable and fuzzy regression discontinuity techniques to examine how OZs have affected real estate prices. We find no consistent evidence that OZs have had any impact on real estate prices.