Each year, graduating Honours Economics students present their capstone research projects (Honours Theses) to faculty, staff, alumni, and fellow students. Due to COVID-19, this year’s students were not able to conduct a poster session in-person. Instead, some of the Honours students present their work virtually for you here.

Each project makes use of the empirical, data science and analytical tools our students have developed over their studies. The VSE congratulates them on this milestone and we look forward to seeing what they continue to accomplish after graduation. We invite you to check out their projects below.

Interested students can learn more about the Honours program here.

Click on the poster’s image for the full PDF. Click the play button to hear an audio clip from some of the students.

The Politics of Disaster Relief

by Jaycee Tolentino

Do political considerations influence federal assistance in emergencies? In the United States, the president decides which requests for federal disaster relief are granted or denied. In my honours thesis, I studied whether a humanitarian institution, natural disaster relief, was vulnerable to politicization.

I constructed a rich dataset of major weather events and federal disaster declarations in U.S. congressional districts between 1966 and 2016 and matched it to political data. I found that presidents use disaster relief to attempt to flip seats in competitive congressional districts.




Does Artificial Night Light Deter Crime as Well as Natural Daylight? A Test Using Daylight Saving Time (DST)

by Caroline Luo

Criminals prefer to do their work when it is dark. Therefore both natural daylight and artificial night light could deter potential offenders by increasing the risk that they will be caught. Are the two sources of light substitutes in crime deterrence?

My thesis revisits the effect of light on crime by pairing detailed data on criminal acts with the amount of artificial nightlight in the location where the crime occurred. I then estimate the size of changes in criminal activity around Daylight Savings Time in places with high and low artificial night light.





The effect of strengthening common law marriage in British Columbia

by Yongli Shi

In 2013 B.C. moved the property rights of common law spouses closer to those of married couples. My thesis estimates how this increase in property rights affected people’s choice of marital status in B.C.

I use both difference in differences and event study methods to measure the policy effect. I found that couples were less likely to be married and more likely to live as common-law partners following the policy change.







The effect of the 2013 selective two-child policy on female employment in China

by Abby Bu

Previous research has shown particularly high life-time childrearing costs for professional women. These costs are a particular problem in developing countries where offsetting government subsidies and regulations are not yet in place.

In 2013, China amended its family planning policy to allow some couples to have a second child. I use this natural experiment to estimate the effect of being allowed to have an extra child on women’s employment.





Does more generous income assistance discourage work? Evidence from Canada

by Yutong Lu
Policy makers often fear high social assistance benefit levels will have negative employment and labor force participation effects. However, do these negative effects actually exist, and if so, how big are they?

My thesis uses new detailed data on social assistance benefit rules and changes across Canada to estimate the effects of social assistance benefit levels on employment. I find that large increases in assistance levels are associated with a modest decrease in the labor force participation rate of singles and single parents with one child. However, higher assistance levels actually increase the labor force participation of couples with two children.





Who pays for funding cuts? The effect of provincial funding on tuition fees

By Lindsay Wang
There is a trend of declining real provincial appropriation income and increasing tuition revenues in Canadian post-secondary institutions. This research asks: How does a real funding cut influence the tuition fees paid by different types of students? It also takes the domestic tuition freeze policy effect into consideration.

I divide all Canadian higher education institutions into categories by their resource intensities, and take a look into which type of students indeed pay for the real funding cut.





Does enhanced illegal immigration enforcement affect the employment of legal migrant workers?

by Sari Wang

My thesis examines how enhancing enforcement against unauthorized immigration in the United States impacts the employment patterns of legal migrant workers in undocumented labour intensive sectors. I focused upon a case study of the effects of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 on the hiring of H-2A temporary visa workers in agriculture.

Using a data-driven approach to select a weighted set of control states to simulate counterfactual outcomes, I found that the passage of this law decreased employment of these visa workers in Arizona by 36 per cent.





Does membership come with privileges? The effect of ETFs on firm value

by Raphaël Grach

Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are in line to become the next big hit on financial markets. ETFs are a specific category of financial instruments that aim at replicating the performance of an underlying basket of securities. Since they are relatively new, ETFs are met with growing enthusiasm in both academia and in the financial world and some start to wonder if their apparent convenience hides a darker side where they create distortions.

 I use the yearly Russell 3000 reconstruction to study the effects of ETFs ownership on three different measures of the value of the firms that compose the index.