Three Essays in Public Economics

TitleThree Essays in Public Economics
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsWu, B
Date Published2006
UniversityThe University of Wisconsin - Madison
CityUnited States -- Wisconsin
KeywordsConsumption and Savings, Medicare/Medicaid/Health Insurance, Methodology, Net Worth and Assets

The first essay uses the policy changes surrounding the 1992 Amendments to the Higher Education Act (HEA92) to examine the effects that the implicit financial-aid tax has on household saving behavior, particularly on portfolio choices. The empirical results show that the financial-aid tax does not significantly affect the total level of wealth. However, families significantly adjust their portfolio composition to avoid the tax. In addition, families seem to lack knowledge about financial-aid rules if they have not experienced with the financial-aid applications. Even if families know the rules, they do not change assets in response to the financial-aid tax if they face no imminent taxation. This second essay uses the policy changes surrounding the 1992 Amendments to the Higher Education Act (HEA92) to examine the reasons for which families have borrowed much more after the HEA92 increased the loan limits on subsidized and unsubsidized student loans. I find that the loan-limit changes do not significantly affect education investments. However, families significantly reduce some other financial instruments used to finance students' higher education, including loans from parents, parents' direct contributions, working while in school, and work-study aid. The third essay uses the Health and Retirement Study to study the effects of group health insurance on women's retirement decisions. I find the availability of alternative group health insurance, including retiree health insurance and spousal health insurance, significantly increases the retirement hazard and decreases retirement age for women. Married women are much more sensitive to the availability of spousal health insurance than to retiree health insurance. Medicare also has significant effect on women' retirement behavior.

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