You are here

Essays on the economics of volunteerism, charity, and healthcare

TitleEssays on the economics of volunteerism, charity, and healthcare
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsYang, W.
UniversityMcMaster University
CityHamilton, ON

This thesis studies the impacts of three government policy interventions in Canada on individuals' behaviour and attempts to bound structural coefficients implied by economics theories using the estimated treatment effects. While the last chapter is on the healthcare market, the first three chapters focus on individuals' charitable behaviour, especially volunteer behaviour. A compulsory volunteer policy in Ontario is investigated from theoretical and empirical perspectives in chapters one and two respectively. In a theoretical overlapping generation model with social capital accumulation, we find that such a policy likely increases total public good provision and the social capital level. However, whether it increases long-run volunteering by those no longer subject to the policy depends crucially on the size of a public good demand elasticity. Chapter two empirically examines the impact of a -compulsory volunteerism- policy for adolescents on subsequent behaviour in Ontario, which mandates 40-hours of community service for high school students as a requirement for graduation. We estimate that: 1) the compulsory volunteer policy increased volunteer participation during high school; 2) those affected by the policy likely volunteered less than they otherwise would have after high school completion; 3) young people in Ontario who were not directly affected by the policy volunteered less after its introduction. The third chapter examines the impact of tax policy changes on individuals' volunteer behaviour and attempts to analyze the relationship between donations of time and money. We develop a model where individuals are heterogeneous in their labour market and volunteer productivities, and in their tastes, which shows that positive cross sectional correlation between v donations of money and time may occur because of individual-specific effects even though each individual would regard such donations as substitutes. Exploiting the exogenous variation in the tax price introduced by a series of tax policy changes in Canada, we find that individuals make more time donations as the tax price of charitable donations increases, which casts doubt on earlier findings in cross sectional data that monetary and time donations are complements and suggests that they may be substitutes as most theories would imply. The last chapter exploits changes in Canadian public health insurers' reimbursement schedules regarding chiropractic services to identify the impacts of subsidies for providers and patients. Over the past two decades, fiscal pressures have seen these services partly or completely -delisted- from public health insurance programs. Despite a large sample of individuals, there are challenges for inference in this situation where the source of exogenous variation derives from a small number of jurisdiction-level policy changes. To address them, we employ aggregation, a wild cluster bootstrap that provides asymptotic refinement, and other approaches. The results show appreciable decreases in providers' incomes and in utilization with the latter concentrated among low and middle income patients. But, chiropractors also augment their labour supply, perhaps increasing administration, marketing/promotion, or time per patient visit.

Document URL