Gender, marijuana, and applied microeconomics: Essays on culture and policy



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This dissertations consists of three chapters which explore topics in policy analysis and economic implications of gender inequitable cultural beliefs. The first chapter considers medical marijuana laws (MMLs). We find MMLs are associated with changes to certain age groups’ labor market outcomes not demonstrated in the prior literature. While a small literature exists on MMLs and labor market outcomes, the results of these studies are somewhat inconsistent. We use a difference-in-differences methodology to estimate the effect of MMLs on a larger set of labor market indicators and transitions across middle age adults. We find that 30-39 and 40-49 year-old females are 9.3% and 8.3% more likely to be in the labor force respectively due to MMLs. Twenty to twenty-nine year-old men however are14.9% less likely to be employed and are more likely to exit the labor force from employment. We also find that 20-29 year-old men increase time sleeping by 47 minutes per day, and spend 79 minutes less looking for a job when unemployed.

The second chapter extends the existing literature on son preference using an epidemiological approach to determine which cultural beliefs contribute most to the existence and degree of son preference within a simultaneous controls framework. We measure son preference by the increased fertility response due to a first-born female child. We find reason to suspect bias in studies which do not control for multiple cultural factors simultaneously. Particularly, the coefficient giving the effect of gender equity on the increased fertility response grows by nearly 35% when religious variables are included. The analysis shows that the major cultural determinants of son preference are political inequities, while measures of women’s relative economic and educational standing are largely irrelevant. The increased fertility response to a first-born female becomes insignificantly different from zero at approximately the political empowerment of Denmark (a value of .3). While Islam also appears to decrease son preference, this effect does not survive the inclusion of home country fixed effects.

In the third chapter, we use epidemiological approach to examine the effect of inherited cultural beliefs about gender equity on the STEM and gender wage gap. We find that while cultural gender equity as measured by the Gender Gap Index does not effect the relative probability that women will enter a STEM occupation, equity when measured by equity in educational outcomes does. The size of this effect is also relatively large. Our estimates suggest that if immigrants went from the lowest to the highest gender equitable country year in our sample, the probability that women choose a STEM occupation would increase by approximately 4.8% relative to men. Meanwhile, women are only 4.5% less likely than men to have a STEM career on our sample. While our estimates of the effect of gender equity on the gender wage gap are only marginally significant, they are both highly robust across specifications and imply changes to the gender wage gap that are economically meaningful. Back of the envelope calculations suggest that if all women went from the least to the most gender equitable country year in our data, the wage gap would decrease from .85 female to male dollars to only .93 at the median wage.



Gender, Culture, Health economics, Marijuana policy