Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Andrew Houtenville

Second Advisor

Ben Brewer

Third Advisor

Bradley Herring


In this research, I examine the intended and unintended consequences of three highly debated policies at the state and federal level: enactment of Title IX, state anti-bullying laws, and warrantless arrest laws aimed at curbing domestic violence. My first essay examines the causal relationship between athletic participation and means-tested program participation. I use the variation in the implementation of Title IX and find that a 30 percentage-point increase in female athletic participation induced by Title IX increased program participation among 25 to 40-year-old females by 2.8 percentage-points. This effect persists across SNAP, TANF, and Medicaid recipiency. Event study analysis and a variety of placebo tests give credibility to a causal interpretation of the results. Finally, descriptive analyses suggest that Title IX-induced increases in single motherhood, marital status change, and employment may be possible channels through which athletic participation affects program participation.My second essay explores the effect of state Anti-Bullying Laws (ABL’s) on teen mental health and suicide. Using a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, I find that state-level anti-bullying laws (ABLs) reduce bullying victimization, depression, and suicidal ideation, with the largest estimated effects for female teenagers and teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning. In addition, ABLs are associated with a 13-16 percent reduction in the suicide rates of females 14-through 18-year-olds. Event-study analyses and falsification tests provide evidence that these estimates can be interpreted causally. Finally, I focus on another state-level legislation that aims to curb domestic violence. In an effort to protect those involved in relationships subject to violence from an intimate partner, states began implementing warrantless arrest laws starting in the late 1970s. While these laws vary in the exact responsibilities of the responding police officer, the general idea of the laws was to make it more likely that the officer would leave a domestic violence call with an arrest of one or more of the parties involved. Despite their intentions, it is possible that these laws could either increase or decrease the prevalence of divorce and/or marriage. I implement a quasi-experimental research design by exploiting variation in the adoption of warrantless arrest laws across states and time to estimate difference-in-difference and event study models using individual-level data. I find no clear evidence that any form of warrantless arrest laws are leading to changes in either divorce or marriage, possibly because they lead to an under-reporting of domestic violence which allows a bad relationship to continue.

Available for download on Thursday, June 23, 2022