Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



First Adviser

Deily, Mary E.

Other advisers/committee members

Hyclak, Thomas J.; Chou, Shin-Yi; Mahony, Douglas


The thesis consists of three parts. The first part examines the impact of state-level minimum wages on employment outcomes in local labor markets for youth. This chapter uses county-level Quarterly Workforce Indicators (QWI) data for 2003-2007 in a panel regression to analyze the effects of state variation in the minimum wage on employment levels, earnings, and job flows. Controlling for county fixed effects and general time fixed effects, and using a single Census Region and economic area time effects to control for spatial heterogeneity, this chapter finds a negative relationship between the minimum wage and the level of employment for those age14-18 and 19-21. However, this chapter finds a positive employment effect for workers age 22-24 suggesting the possibility of substitution towards more experienced workers in higher minimum wage jurisdictions, and also finds that the minimum wage is correlated with reduced job turnover for all age groups and faster net job growth for youth between the ages of 22 and 24.The second part studies the effects of hospital mergers on the quality of health outcomes for acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients, patients receiving coronary artery by-pass grafting (CABG) surgery, and pregnant women in Pennsylvania during the period 1994-2010. This chapter measures the quality of outcomes as risk-adjusted mortality and readmission for both AMI and CABG patients and as the incidence of preventable complications for pregnant patients, and also uses total charges to measure the resources used for each patient. Using propensity scores to match hospitals involved in mergers with hospitals that have never been involved in a merger, this chapter finds that mergers that occurred in concentrated markets are associated with increased probability of in-hospital mortality and higher readmission rates for AMI patients and with increased probability of preventable complications and reduced resource utilization for pregnant patients. However, there is no evidence showing that mergers in more concentrated areas are associated with worse outcomes for CABG patients. Finally, this chapter finds that the effects of a merger on health outcomes may last for years. The third part is the combination of labor and health economics, which is concerned with the question how economic recessions affect the aggregate health outcomes of a population living in the same community. This chapter uses all inpatient data in Pennsylvania for the 2000-2011 period, during which people experienced two recessions, uses county unemployment rates as the primary indicator of recessions, and analyzes the effects of recessions on the percentage of total population in a community that are hospitalized for certain stress-related diseases, while controlling for the community's socio-demographic characteristics. This chapter finds that recessions significantly increase the risk of hospitalization due to alcohol-related conditions among all communities, but decrease the hospitalization rates for AMI and stroke among the high-population-density and high-poverty communities, respectively. Finally, there is no evidence showing any persistent effects of recessions on health.

Included in

Economics Commons