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Three essays on regional and development economics

Han, Luyi
My dissertation comprises three chapters. The first chapter examines the impacts of the U.S. shale boom on local patents. The second chapter assesses how more competitive political competitions in Sub-Saharan African countries and positive birth-year rainfall shocks affect child mortality rates. The third chapter explores the effects of access and adoption of broadband on self-employment and work-from-home.
The first chapter examines the impacts of the U.S. shale boom on local patenting at a commuting zone level. I expect that the shale boom will negatively affect patents because shale development may crowd out labor and capital investments in other non-energy industries. My findings show that a one standard deviation increase in non-vertical drilling well density decreases patent intensity by 3.6% of the mean. Areas with higher drilling densities have lower levels of patented innovation compared to their counterfactuals. This study contributes to the existing literature related to the "natural resource curse." I provide new evidence based on local patenting, which is an important indicator for regional innovation and long-term economic growth.
In the second chapter, I empirically test three hypotheses that affect child mortality based on the rural sample in Sub-Saharan African countries. In the first hypothesis, I assess the effects of more competitive presidential elections on child mortality. In the second hypothesis, I investigate the impacts of birth year rainfall shocks on child mortality. In the third hypothesis, I argue the effects of political competition can be heterogeneous due to different environment conditions. So I interact the presidential election variable with the rainfall variable to examine the heterogeneous effects when there are good rainfall shocks during a more competitive presidential election period. The results show that both competitive elections and positive rainfall shocks reduce child mortality. Their interaction indicates positive rainfall shocks may be less effective to reduce child mortality during a more competitive election time period.
In the third chapter, using the American Community Survey and the Federal Communications Commission data, I examine how broadband affects self-employment and work-from-home for married women. Based on different sources of internet variables, I investigate the impacts of internet from both the adoption and access to broadband. I find that adoption and access to high-speed broadband have significantly positive impacts on self-employment and work-from-home. This study contributes to the existing literature that examines how Information and Communications Technology affects the labor market.