Purdue University Graduate School
Essays_in_Economics_Abigail_R_Banan_August_2023.pdf (15.11 MB)

Essays in Economics

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posted on 2023-07-12, 17:56 authored by Abigail R BananAbigail R Banan

This dissertation consists of three chapters on economic topics related to crime and early childhood. In the first chapter, I explore the effect of a criminal justice policy on crime. The second chapter examines the relationship between gender nonconformity in childhood and life outcomes. In the third chapter, I study the relationship between access to local mental health care for children and juvenile crime.  

In my first chapter, I study the causal impact of post-release supervision on recidivism and new crime. Prior to 2011, inmates who committed lower-level offenses in North Carolina were not subject to post-release supervision. The North Carolina \textit{Justice Reinvestment Act} changed policy to require nine months of post-release supervision. Leveraging a discrete policy effective date in a regression discontinuity in time model and using administrative data from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, I explore the effects of this legislative change on criminal outcomes. Evidence indicates that post-release supervision decreases property and violent crimes, but these changes do not persist beyond the supervision period. Results suggest that supervision leads to more individuals returning to prison at a faster rate due to technical, not criminal, violations; however, requiring lower-level offenders to undergo post-release supervision is a cost-effective program.  

The second chapter of this dissertation is coauthored with Torsten Santavirta and Miguel Sarzosa. We study the role of childhood gender conformity in determining gender gaps. We present a conceptual framework that uses gender norms to explain why some women make less profitable choices than comparable men. Using unique longitudinal survey and register data, we show that gender-nonconforming girls have substantially better education and labor market outcomes than gender-conforming girls. In contrast, gender-nonconforming boys perform substantially worse at school, sort into lower-paying occupations, earn less, and have a greater incidence of mental health disorders and substance abuse during adulthood than gender-conforming boys. Our analyses suggest that such divergence develops from an early age. 

In my last chapter, I explore the relationship between mental health care for children and juvenile crime. Using data with information on facilities that specifically treat children, I exploit the county-level variation in the number of mental health treatment facilities for minors in a two-way fixed-effects model to explore the relationship between access to mental health care in a given year and juvenile crime the following year. I find that outpatient and inpatient mental health facilities for children have heterogeneous effects on juvenile crime.


Handelsbanken Research Foundation grant number P2016-0093

Swedish Research Council, Grant No. 2017-00878


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Economics

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Jillian Carr

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee co-chair

Miguel Sarzosa

Additional Committee Member 2

Timothy Moore

Additional Committee Member 3

Kevin Mumford

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