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Title: Essays on the Economics of Immigration and Crime
Authors: Jacome, Elisa
Advisors: Boustan, Leah
Kuziemko, Ilyana
Contributors: Economics Department
Keywords: Economics of Crime
Health Economics
Intergenerational Mobility
Labor Economics
Public Economics
Subjects: Economics
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation consists of three chapters in public and labor economics. A theme throughout these chapters is using empirical analysis to study the outcomes of low-income and immigrant individuals in the United States as well as the effects of public policies on these communities. Chapter 1 explores whether access to mental healthcare can reduce criminal activity. Specifically, I study the effect of losing insurance coverage on low-income men's likelihood of incarceration using administrative data from South Carolina. Leveraging a discrete break in Medicaid coverage at age 19, I find that men who lose access to Medicaid eligibility are 15% more likely to be incarcerated in the subsequent two years relative to a matched comparison group. The effects are entirely driven by men with mental health histories, suggesting that losing access to mental healthcare plays an important role in explaining the observed rise in crime. Cost-benefit analyses show that expanding Medicaid eligibility to low-income young men is a cost-effective policy for reducing crime, especially relative to traditional approaches like increasing the severity of criminal sanctions. Chapter 2 documents that immigration policies affect an individual's willingness to report crime. I analyze the 2015 Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which focused immigration enforcement on individuals convicted of serious crimes and shifted resources away from immigration-related offenses. I use data from the Dallas Police Department that include a complainant's ethnicity to show that Hispanic-reported incidents increased by 8% after the introduction of PEP. These results suggest that reducing enforcement of individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety can potentially improve trust between immigrant communities and the police. Finally, in Chapter 3, Ran Abramitzky, Leah Boustan, Santiago Pérez, and I find that children of immigrants from nearly every sending country have higher rates of upward mobility than children of the US-born. Using millions of father-son pairs spanning more than 100 years of US history, we show that immigrants' advantage is similar historically and today despite dramatic shifts in sending countries and US immigration policy. Immigrants achieve this advantage in part by choosing to settle in locations that offer better prospects for their children.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics

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