Public Policy Theses and Dissertations

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    (2023) Rand, Lindsay Elizabeth; Gallagher, Nancy; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    When and how could technological advances undermine nuclear deterrence? This research uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore the technical, strategic, and social factors that propagate interest in emerging technologies like quantum sensing, and to assess the likely effects on strategic stability. Recent scholarship asserts that new remote sensing technologies may soon provide the capabilities needed to detect, track, and precisely target the delivery systems that constitute a nuclear-armed state’s second-strike capabilities. If true, this would have profound consequences for international security, nuclear force structure planning and arms control. Even if such predictions are not technically feasible, exaggerated expectations generated by strategic or social influences could still negatively impact acquisition and force structure decisions critical to strategic stability and arms control policy. This dissertation proposes an integrated, socio-technical analytical framework to examine the technical, strategic, and social factors that inform U.S. decision-making on new technologies with important military implications. The framework improves upon existing research in security studies literature by integrating technical projection methods and science and technology studies theories. Before applying the framework to the contemporary case of quantum sensing, the framework’s operability is demonstrated through five historical case studies: ballistic missile defense, hypersonics, satellite imagery, remote vision, and isomer weapons. These case studies illustrate the intricate interplay among technical, strategic, and social factors that has shaped prior U.S. decisions about pursuing technological innovations related to nuclear deterrence, often leading to over-investment as a strategy to hedge against technological surprise. The quantum sensing case study begins with a technical assessment to determine the realistic advances that can be expected, and the likelihood of disruption to a core feature of stable nuclear deterrence: confidence in the survivability of retaliatory forces. It surveys experimental results to identify sensitivities of current quantum sensor prototypes and theoretical literature to evaluate the likelihood of performance gains as R&D progresses. It then estimates how much these projected capabilities could improve submarine detection and missile accuracy applications in the next 10 years. It finds that quantum sensing will afford more evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, improvements in comparison to existing capabilities. The dissertation then surveys the types of strategic narratives and social dynamics that had important effects on prior decisions about efforts to innovate other strategically relevant technologies, highlighting how they also appear to be shaping debates and decisions about quantum sensing. By assessing competing claims about quantum sensing’s impact on second-strike vulnerability, this dissertation explores how diverging deterrence theories amplify disagreements over the impact of new technologies. It also evaluates the social factors that propagate expectations for quantum sensing across the respective social worlds of technologists and capability seekers, finding that realistic assessments are further frustrated by divides between technical and non-technical literatures and classified information barriers. Based on these findings, policymakers should anticipate continued pressure to pursue emerging technologies like quantum sensing, regardless of patent technical limitations, due to a combination of social dynamics and strategic narratives that support damage limitation deterrence postures. While a technology hedging strategy may seem like an innocuous way for policymakers to appease stakeholders with diverging viewpoints on the risks and benefits of emerging technologies, this dissertation suggests that hedging is likely to galvanize social, strategic, and technical momentum that ultimately signals innovation, fosters competition, and manifests strategic effects, regardless of the initial policy intent.
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    Essays on Natural Disasters and Fiscal Resilience
    (2023) Prabowo, Aichiro Suryo; Joyce, Philip G.; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation attempts to bridge two fields within public policy, sustainability and public budgeting and finance. Natural disasters have become more frequent, intense, and costly over the last few decades, and this study contributes to the discourse through a public finance lens. I develop three separate but interrelated essays, which seek to understand how environmental shocks like natural disasters affect government budgets, and what actions governments should take to maintain fiscal resilience and sustainability. The first chapter evaluates the impact of flooding events on state government fiscal conditions. I construct a dataset with panel data from 50 U.S. states between 1997 to 2020 and employ a two-way fixed-effects model. The results show that increased severity of flooding leads to higher intergovernmental revenue two years after the disaster, but states do not necessarily pass down more funds to localities. There is also evidence that an increased flooding severity coincides with increased state tax revenue during and one year after the disaster. While federal assistance can help states stabilize during and after an emergency, I argue that it may also create problematic incentives. Specifically, federal transfers may discourage states from allocating sufficient funds for ex-ante flood mitigation. The second chapter examines whether and how government attention to hurricanes developed over time. I analyze budget documents from 2005 to 2020 across seven hurricane-prone states in the U.S.: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. While prior studies focus on budget data, my study is the first to exploit the narrative portions of the budget documents using textual analysis. Computational text analysis is used to identify and quantify government attention toward different policy areas, including disaster management in connection with hurricanes. Cases from Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida show that an increased incidence of major hurricanes coincides with higher attention to hurricanes in the budget documents. There is also evidence that the attention to hurricanes is associated more with reactive rather than proactive measures, calling into question the general preparedness of most state governments for future disasters. The third chapter surveys the government’s disclosure of risks associated with natural disasters. It is intended as an exploratory analysis using audited financial reports from 50 U.S. states between 2002 and 2016. Audited financial reports are more technical and less political than the budget documents examined in my second chapter. I combine qualitative analysis with computational text analysis to understand the narrative portions of the source document. The results show that state governments do not widely disclose information regarding disaster risk despite the increasing threat of natural disasters. States that disclosed disaster risk in the past tend to disclose the same information in the future and past years, suggesting significant inertia in financial reporting. Finally, based on selected cases in hurricane-prone states, the study finds proactive as well as reactive risk disclosure, suggesting the need for governmental accounting standards to incorporate mechanisms that specify how disaster risk should be recognized, measured, and presented in the financial reports.
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    (2023) Singh, Simran; Hultman, Nathan; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    First-generation biofuels production increased exponentially in the last fifteen years. However, research on the socioeconomic aspects of first-generation biofuels production in countries to which it has expanded to has been limited. According to the literature, food security due to land use tradeoffs between fuel and food crops and unclear inclusion of producers in sustainability governance for fuel crops are central concerns when considering the impact of first-generation biofuel production. Thailand is a key case to study sustainability dynamics of oil palm production due to its focus on biodiesel as a source of renewable energy and similarity to other countries to which oil palm and biodiesel production is expanding. The first part of this dissertation asks if palm oil has affected rice production in Thailand. Using an original province-level data on oil palm and rice production spanning thirty-three years for each Thai province in a multi-level VAR model, the first essay describes contemporaneous, temporal and between-province linkages between oil palm and rice at the country level. Results indicate complex linkages between oil palm and rice, including that oil palm decisions may be indirectly linked to rice plantation decisions from a temporal perspective within a province. The second part of this dissertation examines whether smallholder values have been conscientiously included in fuel-crop sustainability decisions within predominant oil-palm sustainability governance. The literature has recognized that roundtables are the key form of fuel crop governance, and claim legitimacy based on the inclusion of producer stakeholders (farmers) in forming a vision of sustainability. However, evidence suggests that independent smallholders, a particularly vulnerable subset of producers, may not be included despite high-level policies for their inclusion in bodies such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO hereafter). After delineating an original framework for assessing conscientious inclusion based on an original synthesis of the literature on equity, participation, agency and perception, the second part of this research uses 94 field interviews to capture independent smallholder and elite perceptions of independent smallholder inclusion in the RSPO in Thailand. Results presented as themes according to the framework indicate both smallholders and elites perceive that independent smallholders have limited inclusion in envisioning sustainability in the RSPO across various elements of inclusion, compromising the legitimacy of the RSPO sustainability certification.
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    Energy equity & justice implications of climate change mitigation pathways
    (2023) Vallimyalil, Mel George A; Patwardhan, Anand; Hultman, Nathan E; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Analyzing distributional effects on vulnerable sections is important for enhancing climate mitigation ambition by supporting social objectives. Discounting the impacts on the most vulnerable, prior research underestimates the skew in investments required to meet sustainable development goals. Its focus on representative households and cost optimal mitigation pathway archetypes also amplifies false narratives around societal and developmental tradeoffs of mitigation policies. This study demonstrates that bespoke pathway design can support simultaneous attainment of multiple national energy priorities. Using a consistent framework and accounting for interactions between different sectors, it evaluates a set of diverse mitigation pathways to similar climate outcomes. It examines short & long-term distributional impacts on national energy goals to identify pathways which offer synergies across multiple objectives and regions.Next, the impacts are downscaled to the household income deciles in India & the US using household survey data & future income distribution projections, to scrutinize the residential energy burden changes under different mitigation policies. The results show regressive impacts on access and affordability for most mitigation pathways, except those propelled by demand side mitigation strategies and non-CO2 emission reductions. Thereafter, it expands the conceptualization of energy poverty beyond unitary dimensions, binary classifications and income relationships. Applying an alternative framework to identify vulnerable households experiencing energy poverty in India, this study showcases the disparities across dimensions. It then envisions an intersectionality context and proffers empirical evidence of the increased likelihood of households at the overlap of multiple deprivations being entrapped in more severe forms of energy poverty and the concomitant effects on gender inequity. A key finding of this study is that mitigation pathway choice and design matters for just energy transition goals and tailored pathways addressing underlying local and global inequities provide latitude for synergies and progressive impacts. It also establishes that technology solutions alone are unable to redress pre-existing inequities and should be complemented with other support policies for the vulnerable. This study contributes to the scholarship on the need for improved representation of heterogeneity in energy-climate models and offers policy relevance – showing the importance of underlying systemic changes to achieve social & climate goals together.
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    Assessing The Global War On Terror: Measuring The Impact Of US Foreign Terrorist Organization Designation On Salafi Jihadist Group Behavior
    (2023) Sturm, Amy Buenning; Gallagher, Nancy; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This study evaluates the impact of foreign terrorist organization (FTO) designation, a core US counterterrorism tool that unlocks legal, financial, and administrative penalties for terrorist groups, against Salafi jihadist terrorist organizations. Using publicly available data from 2001 to 2018, this research takes a quantitative and qualitative mixed methods approach to evaluate if FTO designation of Salafi jihadist terrorist groups alters their behavior by reducing terrorist membership or changing their attack patterns and lethality. The quantitative portion examines the impact of designation across three primary dependent variable behavior categories: group and membership size; attacks and lethality; and targeting. The qualitative portion looks at the range of possible best to worst case behavior outcomes for groups after designation and seeks to determine which, if any, designation-associated activities drove a reduction in violence. In this study FTO designation did not advance US policy objectives of reducing terrorist group and membership size, decreasing the number and lethality of attacks, or hardening targets against Salafi jihadist attack. Post-designation Salafi jihadist areas of operations experienced overall growth in the number of groups and membership. FTO designation reverses some pre-designation trends in rising attack frequency and lethality, but the results are not statistically significant. Moreover, designation does not significantly impact group targets or attack type. The qualitative case studies use US government reported data on designation-associated activities alongside captured media to explain variance in group outcomes post-designation. The case studies reveal that a terrorist group’s international versus national presence prior to designation better explains variation in outcomes than designation-associated activities. Groups able to flex across national boundaries were seemingly more resilient to CT pressure. The most international group was the most unaffected by designation, while the most nationally focused group was the most impacted. While FTO designation was not causally linked to the desired Salafi jihadist behavioral outcomes, the directional shift in some groups attack frequency and lethality shortly following designation suggest designation’s impact warrants further study, including gathering improved official data and yearly metrics on designation-associated effects. As the US reduces its CT footprint, FTO designation and associated metrics can help guide future operations to target Salafi jihadist groups more efficiently, informing future US government CT efforts.
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    (2022) Miller, Catherine J.; Reuter, Peter H; Kleykamp, Meredith A; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    In 2013, the Ground Combat Exclusion Policy (GCEP) for the United States military was eliminated, and in December 2015 Secretary of Defense Ash Carter opened all ground combat military specialties and positions to women without exceptions. Using primary survey data that I collected in 2021 from the 33 active-duty Army brigade combat teams (BCTs), this dissertation explores the effects of exposure to serving with women on male opinions about gender integration in the combat arms, perceptions of women’s capabilities (physical fitness and mental toughness), and predicted effects of gender integration on unit cohesion and unit performance in the formerly all-male Infantry and Armor branches of the Army. This mixed methods study explores the following question: To what extent does exposure to serving with female soldiers and officers in combat units help explain differences in male support for gender integration, and perceptions about its effects? Since the policy change is fairly new, a natural experiment in military assignments provided an opportunity to learn about how exposure impacts male soldier opinions in formerly all-male units. Women have been assigned in clusters to some Army Infantry and Armor units but not others due to their small numbers. At the time of the survey, there was still significant variation in exposure to serving with women in Infantry and Armor units, so exposure is examined as a treatment variable to determine if male opinions differ by unit level of exposure. The women in these newly integrated units, as well as the men and women in the associated combat support units that have been gender integrated for decades, are also included in the analysis for comparison. The findings demonstrate that the presence of women within a formerly all-male Infantry or Armor platoon or squad, and exposure to a female leader, predict that a male respondent is significantly more likely to support gender integration in the combat arms, perceive that female soldiers in their units are physically fit and mentally tough enough to be effective in their military jobs, and is less likely to worry about gender integration effects on unit cohesion and performance.
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    (2022) Echenique, Juan Agustin; Bhargava, Alok; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    In April 2007, the Government of Chile established a comprehensive support system for early childhood named ”Chile Crece Contigo” (ChCC). This social protection system was the first one of its class in Latin America. However, ten years later, the empirical evidence about the benefits of this policy is still scarce. This dissertation looks to fill that knowledge gap and answer broader questions about promoting skills formation in the first years of life. Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the complex structure of the comprehensive support system Chile Crece Contigo, revises the literature that argues the need for this program, and finally revises the existing evidence about this policy. In Chapter 2, I study a novel service offered as part of the comprehensive early childhood support system Chile Crece Contigo: the stimulation workshops. This service consists of workshops for children and their parents designed to foster and accelerate the learning process of those lagging in their developmental benchmarks based on psycho-motor evaluation. The paper exploits variations in the provision of the service (only children with lags in development are offered the referral to sensory rooms) and non-compliance in treatment attendance to test if the treatment can meet their target of closing the gap in human capital formation between children who received help for enhancing their development trajectory and those who followed the usual path of development. Based on information from Electronic Health Records from an urban district in Santiago, Chile, I document in first place take-up rate behavior based on observable characteristics and baseline evaluations indicating positive sorting into the treatment. Second, I show how the stimulation services offered by Chile Crece Contigo have a higher rate of effectiveness in reducing developmental lags in children with lower test scores at baseline. The average difference for children diagnosed with developmental lags at baseline ranges between 0.7-0.4 standard deviations between 8mo-18mo and 1.0-0.5 standard deviations for 18-36mo. These results suggest that the effectiveness indicator used by policy-makers underestimates the returns of the intervention due to its heterogeneity. Second, efforts to increase the take-up rates for children close to the cutoff values are needed to improve the overall returns of the intervention. Chapter 3 studies the effects of a comprehensive early childhood support system on human capital accumulation. Specifically, we explore differences in educational achievement of the first generations of children exposed to the comprehensive child development support system ”Chile Crece Contigo.” To study this, we exploit the gradual implementation of the policy and the age eligibility requirements to estimate the returns of availability of the policy on data from seven cohorts (2012-2018) of fourth-grade students in Chile. We find sizable positive effects in mathematics (0.21 of a standard deviation) and language (0.23 of astandard deviation) test scores for municipalities that started the program during or before their prenatal stage compared to children that the program began when they were older than sixty months. Estimates from an event-study design show that the exposure returns dissipated for children thirty-six months old or older when the policy started. This result is consistent with the schedule of interventions and early detection instruments established. When we look at the difference in the returns to exposure across gender and socioeconomic status, we find evidence that (i) a comprehensive child support system has higher returns on boys, which could be explained partially by differences in access to need-based services, (ii) these differences across gender differences occur in children with higher levels of exposure, and (iii) we do not find relevant differences between students classified as low-socioeconomic background and not classified in this category.
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    (2022) Han, Xu; Egan, Toby M; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Although performance management is supposed to be a generic, values-neutral tool that can be adapted for any purpose, it has been criticized for ignoring important democratic values. Critics claim that violating these democratic values makes performance management counterproductive to the stated aim of restoring public trust in government through improved outcomes. This dissertation comprehensively examines the impact of performance management on equity and civic engagement in U.S public high schools. Performance management may incentivize prioritizing high-value students who are more likely to contribute to school performance ranking at the expense of others, creating an inequity problem. However, it can also promote the well-being of disadvantaged groups by providing incentives and information on improvement in disaggregated performance. Performance management may draw resources and attention to activities aiming to improve students’ academic performance in high-stakes subjects (reading, math, and science) at the expense of other important activities where students develop skills in and interests for civic engagement. However, activities aiming to improve students' academic performance also prepare students to perform tasks such as reading, writing, speaking, and quantitative reasoning, integral parts of civic engagement. To conduct the analysis, the dissertation draws on a nationally representative survey of administrators and students at public high schools. As students’ academic performance is the result of collaborative efforts among students and staff (teachers and principals), performance management is operationalized for students and staff respectively. The student component includes established student performance standards, frequency of standardized testing, and imposed consequences. The staff component includes principals’ managerial autonomy, teachers’ evaluation, and imposed consequences. Through a multilevel analysis of how performance management influences students, especially for racial minorities’ standardized test scores in math, findings point to an unfilled promise regarding equity. Performance management components for students and staff are each associated with increased average student test scores, but do not shrink the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged student subgroups. Still, not all aspects of performance management perpetuate inequity. Of the two performance management components focusing on staff and students, the staff component is associated with lower test scores for struggling students while the student component increases struggling student performance. By simultaneously analyzing the indirect effects of performance management on volunteering behaviors through cognitive abilities, civic skills, and civic norms in structural equation modeling, the dissertation finds mixed effects of performance management on civic engagement. On the one hand, the student component has a positive but small indirect effect on civic participation by improving students’ cognitive abilities. On the other hand, the staff component has a negative but small indirect effect by reducing students’ participation in extracurricular activities where they develop civic skills. However, the student component does not negatively affect civic engagement. Overall, the findings suggest that despite the negative effects of performance management on equity and civic engagement, performance management can be used to mitigate inequity and reverse the recent decline in civic engagement.
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    Effects of a Mexican Conditional Cash Transfer Program on Health and Demography
    (2022) Ryu, Soomin; Parker, Susan W.; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Progresa, a Mexican conditional cash transfer program (CCT), was introduced in 1997 to alleviate poverty. The program provided cash payments to low-income households conditional on the children’s regular attendance at school and household members’ regularly visits to health clinics. Progresa also offered nutritional supplements, principally to young children and pregnant women. This anti-poverty program was one of the oldest and best-known CCT programs, supporting 7 million low-income families. However, in Spring 2019, the Mexican government officially dismantled Progresa. This dissertation evaluated the impacts of implementing and terminating of Progresa on Mexican health and demographic outcomes using nationwide vital statistics. As vital events were frequently under-reported in rural areas of Mexico where Progresa was mainly implemented, the first chapter examined the validity of vital statistics using the Brass method. I found that births and child deaths were under-reported in Mexico, and under-reporting was more severe in poorer areas. However, for births, there was little evidence of under-reporting once late-registered births were taken into account. The second chapter evaluated the effects of Progresa on fertility, child mortality, and maternal health. Using variations in the beneficiaries of Progresa across municipalities and time, I found that Progresa significantly reduced 0.4-0.5 births during a woman’s lifetime, while adolescent pregnancy was decreased by 13-18%. The program reduced child mortality by 19%, but the effect was temporary. Progresa also enhanced maternal health: it significantly increased institutional deliveries and birth attendance by physician, while decreasing childbirth at home and birth attendance by nurse or midwife. The third chapter assessed the effects of the recent sudden termination of Progresa: it immediately increased in infant mortality due to infectious and parasitic diseases, whereas it reduced deliveries at private clinic and marginally increased deliveries with midwives’ attendance. This dissertation makes significant contributions to social policy and public health by estimating the effects of the CCT program on understudied demographic and health outcomes and the effects of its sudden termination on maternal and child health. This research has crucial public health and policy implications, particularly for several middle- and low-income countries where similar CCT programs are implemented
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    State-level Differences in Charitable Giving in the United States
    (2022) Wu, Zhongsheng; Bies, Angela; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Previous studies usually posit that heterogeneity in charitable giving within countries is less than the variation between them, yet the philanthropic landscapes in the states of the United States have more differences than expected. Substantial variations in both the level and rate of charitable giving exist across the states in the U.S., yet empirical evidence on why there are such substantial differences across the states is very limited and inconclusive. To address the gap in the literature, this study collected individual and/or state level data from multiple sources to answer whether and how state-level political, social, and cultural factors can explain the geographical variations in the level and rate of charitable giving across the states in the U.S. Based on statistical analyses using multiple regressions and multilevel modelling, the results indicate that state-level factors, including political ideology, public welfare expenditure, social capital, income inequality, and cultural capital contributed to the variations in both the level and rate of charitable giving at the state level. Specifically, state-level political ideology is found to have significant relationships with both the level and rate of charitable giving, while the marginal effects of political ideology on both the level and rate of charitable giving are moderated by the public welfare expenditure per capita at the state level. In addition, the density of associational organizations is found to consistently have a significant negative correlation with both the level and rate of charitable giving, while the impacts of the density of charitable organizations on both the level and rate of charitable giving are moderated by income inequality. This study contributes to the literature by revealing a more complex and nuanced picture on why there are substantial regional differences in both the level and rate of charitable giving across the states in the U.S. Specifically, the findings can help challenge the notions that “red (Republican-leaning) states are more donative”, that “higher density of nonprofits attracts more donations”, and that “government spending crowds out private contributions”. This study also shows the necessity to differentiate the impacts of the density of charitable organizations and the density of associational organizations on the level and rate of charitable giving at the contextual level1. What’s more, this study is the first empirical research that not only explored both the level and rate of charitable giving at the contextual level at the same time, but also compared the two stages of charitable giving, and revealed that different factors might behave differently on the level and the rate of charitable giving at the state level.
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    (2022) Siegel, Jonas Elliott; Gallagher, Nancy; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    U.S. policy makers are promoting U.S. civilian nuclear exports as a means of influencing the nonproliferation policies of foreign governments and of achieving U.S. nuclear nonproliferation objectives. This approach to nonproliferation policy making assumes that engaging in international civilian nuclear cooperation is effective at influencing partner country nonproliferation commitments and behavior, and that it is more efficient and effective than other means of achieving similar nonproliferation goals. This dissertation tests these assumptions by examining the historical nonproliferation impact of U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation on three countries who sought to build civilian nuclear power programs with U.S. assistance: Japan, South Korea, and China. These case studies place U.S. civilian nuclear energy cooperation in the context of broader U.S. security and economic relations with these countries, and provide a nuanced understanding of each countries’ rationales for engaging in nuclear cooperation and nonproliferation in the first place. This dissertation also develops a novel approach to measuring nonproliferation that focuses on a country’s nonproliferation behavior in addition to its policy commitments. It also assesses whether particular types and stages of U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation and/or the characteristics of U.S. partners affect the strength and direction of the relationship between nuclear cooperation and nonproliferation. In examining multiple periods of U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation with each country, this dissertation finds that U.S. civilian nuclear energy cooperation—and more specifically, the process of negotiating and renegotiating the terms of nuclear cooperation—can be effective ways to induce U.S. partner countries to adopt nonproliferation commitments. This is particularly the case when U.S. partners are energy insecure and rely predominantly (or exclusively) on foreign assistance in developing their civilian nuclear programs. U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation coupled with U.S. security cooperation (including nuclear security guarantees) can often win U.S. policy makers additional, detailed nonproliferation commitments from partner countries that are not possible with security cooperation alone. The dissertation also finds that U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation has limited impact on the nonproliferation behaviors of U.S. partners in the short run once they formally make nonproliferation commitments. In all three cases, U.S. partners’ nonproliferation behaviors improve over time, but these improvements are due to the partners’ internalization of global nonproliferation norms and partners’ development of their own nonproliferation logic, rather than the influence of U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation. Frequent changes in U.S. nonproliferation preferences and, in particular, the divergence of U.S. nonproliferation preferences from the baseline tenets of the multilateral nonproliferation regime make it costly and difficult for the United States to maintain influence on partner countries’ nonproliferation commitments and behaviors over time with civilian nuclear cooperation. On account of these findings, this dissertation argues that in many situations, U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation is not an effective means of achieving U.S. nonproliferation objectives. Compared to other possible courses of action, such as reinforcing multilateral nonproliferation agreements and norms, or engaging in nonproliferation capacity building, U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation is also not efficient in achieving U.S. aims. Should U.S. policy makers continue to pursue civilian nuclear cooperation as a means of achieving U.S. nonproliferation objectives, they should be aware of the conditions that are most conducive to U.S. nonproliferation influence, and they should be realistic about the challenges and costs associated with maintaining that influence over time.
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    Three essays on facilitating electrification and energy efficiency from the demand side
    (2022) Shen, Xingchi; Qiu, Yueming; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    To tackle climate change, one of the basic decarbonization strategies is to decarbonize end-use applications through electrification and energy efficiency. This dissertation comprises three essays focused on the effectiveness and implementation of the interventions aimed at electrification and energy efficiency in the building sector of the demand side. It is not easy to facilitate the transition to energy efficiency and electrification. In the building sector, much literature has found the “energy efficiency gap”, meaning that there is a persistent gap between the level of energy efficiency investment that is projected to save money and the investment that actually occurs despite the benefits from energy-efficiency investments. In many situations, the energy efficiency upgrade is in conjunction with electrification.Two types of interventions have been widely utilized to help close the “energy efficiency gap” and “electrification gap” in the building sector: price-based incentives and information-provision interventions. In my dissertation, the first essay focuses on (price-based) subsidy interventions while the other two essays focus on information-provision interventions to alter consumers’ energy demand. The first essay aims to evaluate the effectiveness of the subsidies (rebate and loan programs) on residential air-source heat pump adoption based on the evidence from North Carolina of U.S. Many national, state-level, and city-level decarbonization plans include the transition to heat pumps. The rebate and loan programs are the two widely-adopted incentives for residential heat pumps in the U.S. Using the method of Difference-in-Differences (DID) in conjunction with spatial discontinuity, this essay estimates the impact of a rebate program ($300-450 per system) on heat pump adoption rate and compares it with the effect of two loan programs (with different annual interest rates: 9% and 3.9%). I find that the rebate program increases the adoption density by 13% in a year and shows advantages in increasing the heat pump adoption rate compared to the two loan programs. The second essay finds a positive house price premium associated with air-source heat pump installations in the U.S., which policymakers can use to provide information campaigns to influence the adoption of heat pumps. In this essay, I apply the DID method and use a sample of 450,000 homes across 23 states of the U.S. to estimate the heat pump-induced house sales price premium. Residences with an air-source heat pump enjoy a 4.3-7.1% (or $10,400 - $17,000) price premium on average. Policymakers can use the information about potential price premiums to influence consumer choices, in addition to traditional energy guides, which typically focus on fuel costs. The third essay investigates the effectiveness of another type of information-provision campaign – special environmental events. Special environmental events, such as Earth Hour, World Environment Day, and Chinese National Energy Saving Week, can be regarded as a form of “nudge” to arouse people’s awareness of environmental protection and energy efficiency/conservation. Using a two-stage local linear method, I estimate the impacts of the three special environmental events on short-run electricity-saving behaviors using high-frequency smart meter data in Shanghai, China, for both residential and commercial consumers. I find that World Environment Day and National Energy Saving Week caused commercial users to reduce their electricity consumption by 1.35 kWh/hour and 0.6 kWh/hour intra-event, around 17% and 8% reduction compared to average consumption. Earth Hour did not lead to significant energy-saving effects for both residential and commercial users.
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    Essays on Oversized Public Employment and Rentier States
    (2022) Mata Lorenzo, Elizabeth; Swagel, Phillip; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation studies whether politicians in rentier states are more likely to use public sector employment as a redistribution mechanism than in non-rentier states, in exchange for political support. I find that larger resource rents are associated with more public employment, conditional on being a democracy with low productivity and high inequality. In this context, larger resource rents can also change public employment composition, in favor of blue-collar workers and political appointees. Moreover, being resource-wealthy is associated with contextual factors that discourage public service reforms meant to curve down excessive or non-meritocratic public employment growth. These results are consistent with theory and existing evidence that public jobs can be used by political elites for clientelistic redistribution - that is, in exchange of political support. When productivity is low and inequality high, it can be convenient for politicians to provide more public employment (versus public goods or other private transfers) because it increases their chances of staying in power. Natural resource rents further enhance this tendency, by raising the stakes of keeping office and granting a larger envelope for redistribution. My findings are relevant because they call for realism in reforms aimed at making the public services of resource rich countries leaner or more meritocratic, by highlighting the potential incompatibility of these policies with political incentives. Furthermore, my work contributes to the literatures on the political economy of the natural resource curse, clientelism and public employment, and public service reforms. In the first essay, I test existing theories of redistributive politics to consider whether natural resource rents affect politicians’ willingness to redistribute income through public employment. Using panel data for 138 countries over 23 years, I find that the relationship between resource rents and public employment size is contingent on the political regime type. In democracies, resource wealth is generally associated with larger public employment, as this strategy provides electoral advantages. The opposite holds for the average autocracy, since more resource rents increase autocrats’ ability to repress (hence reducing the need to please the broader population). In the second essay, I explore the effect of natural resource revenues on municipal public employment in Peru. I exploit the variation in exogenous mining revenue shocks across municipalities, due to a legal reform in 2004 which sharply increased the mining revenues transferred to mineral-producing municipalities. Post reform, producing municipalities significantly increasedpublic employment, providing mainly temporary contracts to (predominantly) blue collar workers and political appointees. Consistent with theory, this employment growth composition suggests that it was partly driven by redistribution concerns and likely clientelistic. In the third essay, I survey the (relevant) theoretical and empirical literature to explain why resource rich countries are less likely to implement meritocratic reforms of their public services (and thus reduce clientelistic employment). The review shows that public service reforms, while generally politically unattractive, are particularly challenging in resource-wealthy countries. This is because resource-wealth is associated with contextual factors that further discourage such reforms, such as lower productivity, being less democratic and more prone to violent conflict, and having less programmatic political parties and deeper political budget cycles.
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    Income Inequality and Household Debt: Assessing the Relationship Using Household Panel Data
    (2022) Brauer, Max; Graham, Carol; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Is income inequality positively associated with household debt? Previous scholarship suggests that widening income inequality could stimulate household debt, particularly in advanced economies. Furthermore, this potential link could be associated with negative consequences including reduced GDP and secular stagnation, financial fragility and crisis, and decreased capabilities, mobility, and well-being. Yet, until recently, this “income inequality/household debt” link has been understudied. The first chapter discusses two theoretical bases for the link and synthesizes the burgeoning empirical research to identify gaps. Theoretically, income inequality could bolster credit supply because marginal propensity to save increases with income. But income inequality could also stimulate credit demand through the relative income hypothesis. Empirically, income inequality is positively associated with rising debt-to-income ratios (DTI) in developed countries. However, this empirical research generally lacks controls for an important omitted variable (financial deregulation) and an alternative explanation (wealth effects). Moreover, few studies explore changes in the intensive margin of household DTI, which has been the largest contributor to rising overall DTI and is most likely linked to negative consequences. The second chapter examines the relative impacts of various measures of state-level income inequality, financial deregulation, and wealth effects on both the intensive margin and overall DTI of United States households using household panel data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Results indicate that income inequality is significantly, positively associated with household DTI, but only for the Gini coefficient and the top 10 percent income share. Yet for these measures, income inequality has the strongest and most significant impact on the intensive margin of household DTI as compared to alternative explanations. The third chapter explores a potential microfoundation for the income inequality/DTI link: whether subjective well-being is associated with household DTI. A long literature notes how income inequality and relative income preferences affect subjective well-being. If subjective well-being also affects debt, it could function as a measure of credit demand. Again using data from the PSID and a fixed effects method, results show that subjective well-being has a positive, significant, contemporaneous association with household DTIs. Such a positive association could indicate a “tunnel effect” -- that households with a positive, aspirational outlook take on increasing amounts of debt. However, reverse causality is a potential issue, and additional models designed to address reverse causality with a two-year lag do not find significant results, perhaps due to data limitations for lag specifications. The key finding of this dissertation is that income inequality is positively associated with household DTI, and, in fact, contributes more to driving indebted households deeper into debt than alternative explanations. Yet when viewed from the lens of subjective well-being, happier households are more likely to take on additional debt. These findings suggest that, in the United States, income inequality may lead some households to go deeper into debt as they ostensibly chase the “American dream” and aspire to the same living standards as higher income earners.
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    Assessing Motives for Russian Federation Use and Non-use of Force: An Approach to Improve the Strategic Planning and Policy of the United States
    (2021) Hickey, Christopher John; Gallagher, Nancy W.; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The purpose of this dissertation is to inform scholarship and improve U.S. policy and strategy to prevent the Russian Federation from using military force against U.S. interests. It does this by exploring and answering the question, what explains the Russian Federation’s choices on the use of military force? The dissertation developed and demonstrated an approach to translating policy debates into sufficiently rigorous sets of competing explanations of strategic behavior for expectations about future behavior under various conditions to be stated and tested. The explanations developed and tested used motives derived from The Rational Theory of International Politics by Glaser and The Logic of Political Survival by Bueno De Mesquita, Smith, Siverson, and Morrow. Systematic analysis of competing explanations attempted to find incongruence between the expectations if a motive was a plausible explanation and the behaviors actually observed since 1991. This dissertation found that the Russian Federation’s choices on the use of military force are explainable by the balancing of three motives. These choices have prioritized first the motive of the president’s political survival, then Russia’s self-protection/security motive, and then Russia’s domination/greed motive. This suggests that the Russian Federation calculates risks when making these choices differently than currently assumed. The most important risks influencing these decisions are those related to the future of the Russian president’s political winning coalition. These findings allow the U.S. to take a game theory-informed approach to strategic planning that seeks to prevent the use of military force against U.S. interests at a lower level of costs and risks than the current approach. The United States should develop a strategy to foster three somewhat contradictory calculations simultaneously. The U.S. strategy needs to communicate that the negative consequences of using force would outweigh whatever potential benefit might tempt the domination/greed motive. At the same time, the strategy needs to communicate that if Russia acts with restraint, then Russian self-protection/security motive concerns will be addressed cooperatively. Most importantly, the strategy needs to influence the Russian president’s calculations about whether using or not using force against U.S. interests would be better for personal political survival.
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    Acknowledging Survival: Political Recognition and Indigenous Climate Adaptation in the United States
    (2021) Cottrell, Clifton; Bierbaum, Rosina; Sprinkle, Robert; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Indigenous peoples in the United States are already disproportionately experiencing the impacts of climate change. Closely related to tribal efforts to manage climate effects are historical endeavors to assert indigenous sovereignty and govern tribal lands, but deficiencies in the process used by the U.S. government to acknowledge tribal sovereignty have left hundreds of indigenous communities unrecognized and especially vulnerable to climate harm. My dissertation aims to determine whether a tribe’s recognition status affects its capacity for climate adaptation. To make this determination, I utilize a case study methodology wherein I analyze the circumstances of one non-federally recognized tribe, the Burt Lake Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, in three critical areas related to adaptation and tribal recognition — access to key species and cultural resources, utilization of federal funding opportunities, and participation in climate decision-making. Tribal access to resources is often predicated by historical treaty rights, so I applied a theme identification technique to extrapolate important strategies on easing barriers to resource access and regulatory authority. I then used the themes to compare the likelihood of the Burt Lake Band and nearby federally recognized tribes to maintain connections to key species in the future. I next employed a comparative statutory analysis methodology to differentiate eligibility for non-federally recognized tribes accessing federal funding. I also assessed tribal climate adaptation plans and interviewed tribal climate plan managers on the barriers to successful implementation of adaptation actions. Finally, I developed criteria from a review of global literature on the inclusion of indigenous peoples in adaptation projects to assess participatory opportunities for the Burt Lake Band in state and regional climate governance. My findings show that the Band’s lack of federal recognition inhibits its adaptive capacity to access key cultural resources, federal funding, and climate governance opportunities. However, I also conclude that state and local perceptions of tribal identity could have a greater influence on the adaptation of non-federally recognized tribes, so I recommend that a more inclusive federal recognition system be implemented to avoid the unequal development of indigenous adaptive capacity based on disparate approaches to indigenous affairs by state and local jurisdictions.
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    (2021) Liang, Jing; Qiu, Yueming (Lucy); Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Energy is essential for human development; however, energy consumption is also responsible for large air and greenhouse gas emissions. As the concerns about global climate change have increased, reducing energy demand has gained more importance. This dissertation focuses on energy consumption in the building sector, especially the residential building sector. Energy efficiency and conservation, as a key strategy for reducing energy demand in the building sector, is favored by advocates and policymakers because it can be a cost-effective approach to reduce energy demand. This dissertation takes a three-essay format and adds to the discussion on energy efficiency and the energy efficiency gap. Essay 1 evaluates energy efficiency retrofits. Many past estimations of energy efficiency performance are based on the predicted savings from simulation or engineering models, and they overestimate the actual savings. This essay evaluates the electricity savings from Energize Phoenix program in Arizona, which includes 201 residential buildings and 636 commercial buildings during 2008-2013. Fixed effects panel regression is applied, and the results show energy savings are 12% for commercial buildings and 8% for residential buildings. The realized energy savings are 30-50% lower than the predicted ones by engineering models, implying that policymakers need to rely more on the empirical evaluations. Heterogeneity also exists among retrofits for different buildings. Essay 2 investigates the adoption of energy efficiency. Although many market and behavioral factors have been proposed to explain the low adoption level of low-carbon technologies, the impact of one particular factor-electricity rate has not been fully discussed in the existing literature. Essay 2 investigates the association between time-of-use (TOU) electricity rate and the adoption of solar panels and energy-efficient air conditioners in residential buildings. The empirical evidence suggests that TOU consumers are associated with a 27% higher likelihood of solar panel installation, but they are not more likely to adopt energy-efficient air conditioners (ACs). Essay 3 examines the existence of the energy efficiency gap and compares the social and private benefits from energy efficiency under different rates (TOU and non-TOU rate). This essay applies data on energy efficiency retrofits and hourly electricity demand for about 16,000 households during 2013-2017. A combination of a matching approach and fixed effects panel regression is employed. The results show that the private benefits of energy efficiency exceed the social benefits under both TOU and non-TOU rates but by different degrees. These results indicate that there should be potentially different levels of policy interventions towards energy efficiency for consumers on different rates.
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    Exploring complexity in well-being: A mixed methods examination of the Black women’s well-being paradox
    (2021) Ford, Tiffany N; Graham, Carol; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This study explores the complexity of Black women’s well-being and policy experience along the income distribution. This dissertation consists of three separate but related essays. Chapter 1 argues for the active inclusion of intersectionality theory in social and economic policy work. I rely on the literature to draw clear links between the intersectionality theoretical framework, the study of subjective well-being, and the development of equitable public policy to support well-being. In chapter 2, I explore an intracategorical complexity approach to intersectionality, focusing on unpacking the layers of difference among Black middle-class women and investigating how they relate to well-being. Using qualitative focus group data, I uncover the key factors shaping well-being for 22 Black middle-class women in Wichita, KS and Las Vegas, NV and discuss what a policy agenda might look like to support their well-being. Results of this transformative exploratory sequential mixed methods design suggested health, money, and social support, like friendships, family, and romantic partnerships, were core determinants of well-being for Black middle-class women. Quantitatively, Black middle-class women’s well-being and determinants differed significantly by their level of education and by a combination of their parenthood and marital status. This work revealed that structural oppression may be influencing Black middle-class women’s well-being by the shaping of the distribution of their determinants of well-being. In chapter 3, I focus on subjective well-being at the intersection of race, gender, and class through an intentional focus on Black women in different income classes. Relying on Gallup Daily data from 2010-2016, I explore both intracategorical and intercategorical complexity, comparing well-being and its determinants within race-gender and across it. This work reveals a paradox of well-being for Black women: in every income class, Black women are more optimistic and less stressed than white people, despite having less of the objective factors known to contribute to that well-being. I offer potential explanations for this paradox. Through an intentional focus on Black women, this work takes an early step in unpacking the relationship between policy-relevant objective factors (like financial security surrounding food and healthcare access and relative health status) and subjective well-being in the lives of an American public imbued with racial and gender diversity. The overall results of this study illustrate the importance of qualitative and mixed methods inquiry into the economic, health, and social position of Black women in the U.S. in order to yield further lessons for policies that could benefit this group.
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    The Effects of Public Policies on Informal Labor: An Analysis for Low-Skilled Workers
    (2021) Boruchowicz, Cynthia Gabriela; Swagel, Phillip; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    In this dissertation I empirically assess how public policies such as regulations and taxes influence workers' employment on the informal sector of the economy - particularly in low-skilled occupations with a high female presence. Informal employment is characterized by not paying in full into the national pension scheme and generally not being affected by many other aspects of the regulatory or tax system. As such I contribute to the literature on the institutional aspects of labor informality and on integrated labor markets. The study sheds light on different aspects of the labor market from a gender perspective, which can have short-term implications in terms of tax collection or access to certain benefits for workers, and also long-term effects in the inter generational transmission of poverty and inequality, as children who are raised in informal households have less access to opportunities. In the first analytical chapter I show that the introduction of Argentinean national Law 26.063 of 2005, which provided employers of domestic workers with a tax deduction for having their workers on-the-books, increased domestic workers’ formalization rates. I do so through a triple difference (difference-in-difference-in-difference) strategy which exploits geographic variation in the intensity of the law based on differences in the share of potential household employers that could benefit from the deduction according to their income level, and uses a group of similar low-skilled females as control. In the second chapter, I show that the fear of losing welfare payments under a formal work arrangement is the mechanism behind the difference in registration for domestic workers with children under and over 18 years old in Argentina after the introduction in 2013 of a new regulation for formal domestic workers giving them access to extended mandated benefits. I do so through a difference-in-difference approach that exploits variation in the age of a domestic worker's youngest child. In the last chapter, I explore the effect of a stricter nail technician's occupational licensing requirement in the United States on two proxies for informality by exploiting state level variations in the number of mandated training hours. Through an instrumental variable (IV) approach using characteristics of the state-level Board of Cosmetology as instruments I found that stricter requirements increase the probability a nail technician will be self-employed, but not of working without a license.
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    (2021) Greenwalt, William Charles; Joyce, Philip G; Public Policy; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Time was a significant factor in shaping disruptive defense innovation solutions in World War II and the early Cold War. During this period, significant advances were made in military aircraft, missiles, submarines, electronics, and other technologies that were achieved through a time-based development approach of rapid experimentation and operational prototyping. Since the 1960s, however, the time taken to develop and deploy U.S. military systems has significantly increased. This increase corresponded to a shift in emphasis within the public management regimes established to govern defense innovation to one of predominately controlling cost. A systems analysis approach to defense management gained prominence during the Kennedy Administration and emphasized cost analysis, program budgeting, and centralized planning and control from within the Office of the Secretary of Defense as a means to obtain greater efficiency in defense spending. This framework was implemented through a series of linear processes overseen by compartmented management regimes such as the requirements, budget, acquisition, and contracting functions in a structure institutionalized in law and regulation. These linear processes evolved in a way that increased the minimum time to conduct defense innovation that far exceeded previous developmental timelines. Compounding the problem of linearity, government-unique processes and requirements within defense management regimes have created barriers to the civil-military integration of the industrial base. This has furthered the establishment of a narrow, specialized defense industrial base by excluding from the defense market those commercial companies that innovate quickly within time-based constraints. While periodic end-rounds to management regimes were created when the Department needed to rapidly innovate in an emergency or to access innovation from the larger commercial market, these efforts have been at the margins of expenditures and were eventually constrained by the traditional management regimes. A broader ability to reduce innovation times or expand the defense industrial base will require systematic change to address process linearity and civil-military integration barriers.