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Title: Essays on the Economics of Child Welfare and Social Experiences
Authors: Mills, Christopher
Advisors: Currie, Janet
Contributors: Economics Department
Subjects: Labor economics
Public policy
Social work
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation includes three chapters on the economics of child welfare and social experiences, through the lens of labor and public economics. A common theme in these papers is how targeted interventions in the forms of algorithmic information, peers, and social gatherings, respectively, shape long-run outcomes of adolescents and young adults. A second common thread is the use of proprietary linked administrative data and quasi-experimental methods for policy evaluation. Chapter 1, co-authored with Marie-Pascale Grimon, studies the impact of algorithmic information on child protective services (CPS) social worker investigation decisions and child outcomes. We evaluate the effects of providing workers with randomized access to an algorithmic score that accurately predicts whether a child will be removed from their home due to maltreatment. Giving workers access to the score reduced child injury-related hospitalizations by 32 percent and narrowed Black-white racial disparities in CPS investigations. Text analysis of worker discussion notes suggests that algorithmic predictions allow workers to better focus their attention on supplemental features of the allegation. Chapter 2, co-authored with Sarah Font, documents the role of peers on the outcomes of youth in congregate foster care. Using three decades of Wisconsin administrative data, we leverage exogenous variation in the relative imprisonment risk of foster care peers. A one standard deviation increase in peer imprisonment risk is associated with a modest 2.5 percent increase in a youth's likelihood of dropping out of high school. However, peer risk has no effect on a child’s likelihood of entering prison by age 20, nor on several other indicators of deviant behavior. Finally, Chapter 3 studies the impact of social gatherings on student giving and career trajectories. Using the rotational timing of the Urbana missions conference, a large collegiate religious gathering, and additional variation in weather-related flight cancellations, I find that conference attendance produces persistent long-run increases in giving and employment for the sponsor organization, and broader changes in initial industry of employment. Gatherings are most influential for graduating-cohort attendees compared to younger students, suggesting that similar interventions may be particularly influential at key transition points.
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics

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