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Four essays in inequality

TitleFour essays in inequality
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsGibson, G.
UniversityMcMaster University
CityHamilton, ON
Keywordsapplied econometrics, family, health, inequality, social assistance

This thesis contributes new knowledge to discussions of inequality in three arenas and two methodological syntheses that might inform future statistical analyses. Methodologically, the application of unconditional quantile regression in a two-stage model is used to determine whether response bias plays any role in the patterns observed in survey responses (Chapter 2), and, a recent development in the program evaluation literature (the synthetic control method) is combined with flexible parametric survival models to identify treatment effects where stratification is perfectly correlated with treatment (albeit under restrictive assumptions). The analyses undertaken herein have discovered: that self-assessed unmet need for healthcare has an empirical basis for application as reporting behaviour statistically predicts decline in health, that the likelihood of reporting unmet need conditional on health and healthcare utilization is correlated with the dimensions along which social scientists might map inequality, that government programs intended to provide a minimum level of utility are unresponsive to regional poverty-relief efforts, and that household bargaining outcomes regarding number of children can be predicted by exposure to a parental divorce. The implications of these findings are manifold. First, while self-assessment of healthcare access is a valid metric on average to overcome limitations of needs-adjusted utilization, its use in cross-sectional analysis as it is currently obtained in survey across many different jurisdictions is suspect. Second, the patterns of fertility conditional on parents' divorce suggest that household bargaining in Canada does not likely belong to several different theoretical frameworks. Specifically, bargaining most likely exists in an environment where women still bear the cost of children in the event of a divorce, or bargaining exists without commitment. Finally, while the theoretical literature makes compelling claims about interactions between different levels of government policy, in practice this may not be the case even if policy-wordings seem to suggest this would be particularly relevant.

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