Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Member

Joonhuyng Lee

Committee Member

Jobu Babin


The first essay of the dissertation investigates whether earnings inequality prevailing within a narrowly defined occupation helps predict how hard a person will work on a random day on his job. To the degree that inequality within occupation is found to influence work effort, I also investigate the possible asymmetry in the effects of earnings inequality on work effort. I document that more unequally paying occupations motivate workers to work harder on the job. I find that, in line with predictions of tournament model, it is the inequality above, rather than below, the median of the earnings distribution that helps motivate the average salaried worker to expend greater work effort. The second essay documents that men and women respond differently to competitive-based incentives in the form of potential earnings prospects. I find that whereas the average male workers effort is driven by potentially better earnings prospects in the form of greater upper-half inequality within his occupation, the average salaried female worker is motivated to work harder when she faces potentially inferior earnings prospects in the form of wider lower-tail inequality in her occupation. I also revisit the sources of unexplained racial gaps in work effort documented by Hamermesh et al. (2017) and find that a minority male worker underinvests in work effort because he does not respond to the labor market competitive incentives prevailing in his occupation at par with the average majority male worker. Had the average minority worker responded to better earnings prospects within his occupation similarly to majority male workers, there would be no such gap observed. The third essay evaluates the effectiveness of public schooling funds use over time and across states. I exploit variations in the state-level effectiveness scores and educational outcomes to document that statewide policies such as statewide requirements for public school teacher certification and greater opportunity of school choice are positively associated with the greater effectiveness of public school funds. I also find that states with more unequal distribution of public school funds are less efficient in achieving greater student outcomes.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest