Date of Award

Summer 8-14-2013

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Public Policy and Management


Lowell Taylor

Second Advisor

Maria Marta Ferreyra

Third Advisor

Dennis Epple

Fourth Advisor

David Deming


Chapter 1 utilizes confidential student achievement information obtained under a signed confidentiality agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The authors wish to thank Jinxiang Liu for programming and database support. The authors benefited from discussions with Maria Ferreyra, Margaret McMacken, John Garrow, Dave Davare, Brian Junker, participants at the October 3, 2008 seminar on applied microeconomics at the Tepper School, participants at the May 23, 2009 seminar at Heinz College, and comments received at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Economic Finance Association and the 2009 Summer Meeting of the North American Econometric Society. Financial support from the Heinz Endowments and the William Penn Foundation is gratefully acknowledged. Responsibility for the findings and interpretation of this paper rests solely with the authors.

Regarding Chapter 2, I would like to thank Lowell Taylor, Maria Marta Ferrerya, and Mel Stephens, Heinz and Tepper seminar participants, Melanie Zilora, Billie Morrow Davis, John Gardner, and Abby Linn. I also thank Dave Davare, Anne Herald, and the staff of the PSBA.

Chapter 3 has benefited from the advice of Lowell Taylor, Melanie Zilora, Billie Morrow Davis, Aaron Turner, my committee, and comments received at my dissertation proposal. I also thank Stephanie Cellini and Latika Chaudhary for their help in replicating their paper. I gratefully invite the comments and feedback of any readers of this version. This research was conducted with restricted access to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the BLS.

This dissertation is dedicated to my paternal grandmother, Doris Clay, who made me promise to finish my degree. All chapters would have been impossible without the loving support of my husband, Aaron Turner, and my parents, Jan and David Clay. Honorable mentions are due to my eighth-grade English teacher, Mr. Ford, my high-school history and economics teacher, Mr. Copley, and my undergraduate advisor, Rajiv Sethi. This work is a small piece of their legacies as teachers. Finally, my children, Ryan and Tristan Turner, both provided love and support during the latter half of the writing of this dissertation, and deserve thanks for sharing their infancy with my academic endeavors.