Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Tollison, Robert D

Committee Member

Maloney , Michael

Committee Member

Sauer , Raymond D


In the first essay I estimate the effect of a tuition subsidy, in the form of in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, on the college enrollment decision of non-citizen Mexican immigrants. Using data from the Current Population Survey, I capture the variable impact of the policy across age by estimating the impact on two different age groups. I also estimate the differential effect across genders. The policy increases the college enrollment among non-citizen Mexican immigrants. The subsidy is associated with a 1.5 percentage points (or 15 percent) increase in college attendance of younger immigrants aged 18 to 20 years old. Older immigrants, aged 21 and 22 years old, are more responsive: their college enrollment doubles with the introduction of the in-state tuition policy. Irrespective of age, the subsidy increases the likelihood of college attendance more for men than it does for women. Subsidizing the cost of college results in an 7.7 percentage points (or 86 percent) increase in college attendance of men while women's participation drops by 72 percent. Irrespective of age, married women are more likely to drop out of college when in-state tuition is offered. The college participation of U.S. citizens is trivially impacted by the in-state tuition subsidy to undocumented students.
The second essay concentrates on answering the question of whether couples strategically time their divorce so as to minimize their joint tax bill. Previous empirical literature that analyzes the changing trends in the family dynamics often rely on identifying the demographic, the sociocultural, as well as the economic factors that influence those changes. The role of the income tax code and the tax liability faced by each individual according to marital status has only recently been considered as a possible influence on the likelihood and timing of divorce. Using household data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I build a parametric model of the divorce timing decision as a function of the change in the tax burden caused by whether the divorce takes place by the end of the year or not.
Results provide evidence that individuals do respond to tax incentives and changes in the marriage tax penalty alters the relative value of divorcing early. A doubling of the relative marriage tax price is going to reduce the probability of accelerating the divorce by 3.2\% when the price is computed under the assumption that the spouse with the higher income gets the dependents. The effect is slightly larger (i.e. 3.7\%) when the relative marriage-tax price is computed under the assumption that the spouse with the higher income gets the dependents and also gets the 'Head of Household' filing status.

Included in

Economics Commons



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