Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Member

Robert Tamura

Committee Member

Scott Baier

Committee Member

Michal Jerzmanowski

Committee Member

Gerald P Dwyer, Jr.


The first chapter of this dissertation identifies the decline in mortality risk as an important trigger of demographic transition. To that end, we solve a precautionary demand for fertility model to fit the time series of total fertility rate and average years of schooling in the labor force for the 16 rich countries. Overall, the time series of fertility and average years of schooling for individuals in the labor force generated by our model closely match the actual observations. Furthermore, the out-of-sample prediction of output per worker are also highly correlated with the data. Using the model, we also identify a temporary decline in the price of housing space as the leading cause of baby booms across these countries.

The second chapter employs machine learning techniques to capture heterogeneity in free trade agreements. The tools of machine learning allow us to quantify several features of trade agreements, including volume, comprehensiveness, and legal enforceability. Combining machine learning results with gravity analysis of trade, we find that more comprehensive agreements result in larger trade creation effects. In addition, we identify the specific trade policy provisions that tend to have the substantial effect in creating trade flows. In particular, legally binding provisions on anti-dumping, capital mobility, competition, customs harmonization, dispute settlement mechanism, e-commerce, environmental standards, export restrictions, freedom of transit, import restrictions, institutional arrangements, intellectual property rights, investment, labor standards, public procurement, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, services, subsidies and countervailing measures, technical barriers to trade, telecommunications, and transparency tend to have the largest trade creation effects.



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