Essays in Labor Economics and Political Economy
In this project I investigate three sets of policy changes related to overtime penalties, school bond measures, and police training. I study the effects that these policy changes have had on labor market and other outcomes. In the first chapter, I examine how the demand for labor and the categorization of labor change in response to a change in penalties for overtime violations. I propose a model for determining labor demand for fully compensated overtime hours, undercompensated overtime hours, and total hours when employers rationally undercompensate overtime labor. I find evidence that, following a decrease in the expected penalty for state overtime violations in Massachusetts, the average number of undercompensated and fully compensated overtime hours worked increased, while the average number of non-overtime hours worked decreased. There is little evidence that employers responded to the change in penalties by reclassifying workers as exempt or nonexempt from the overtime law.
In the second chapter I use multiple methods to examine how school bond measures, and the accountability measures associated with the bond measures, affect home prices and teacher labor market outcomes. I find evidence that school bonds passed with a 55% passage threshold are correlated with increases in home prices and average teacher salaries. The findings are reversed for bonds passed with a two-thirds passage threshold, which are correlated with reductions in home prices and teacher salaries. The findings suggest that the accountability measures for school bond measures do influence the way the bonds are used, and have downstream effects on home prices and teacher labor market outcomes.
In the final chapter, I evaluate how different types of police training may affect the conduct of police officers. I find that increased Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) funding leads to a small temporary decrease in civilian complaints sustained. Increased POST funding is also correlated with decreases in police shootings in each of the following three years, though these results are statistically indistinguishable from zero. Differences between how POST and non-POST training programs cover various topics—such as those related to mental health, professionalism, and rights—may explain these results. Policymakers may look to investing in increased police training funding from the state to improve policing outcomes.