Date of Award

May 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Scott J. Adams

Committee Members

John Heywood, Owen Thompson, Chad Cotti, Matt McGinty, Scott Drewianka


This dissertation consists of three chapters. My first chapter examines the effect of mandatory first time offender ignition interlock laws. Specifically, I use difference in difference techniques to estimate the effect of the laws on alcohol related fatal accidents. I also discuss and link behavioral models of deterrence and incapacitation to the results, so that finding can easily be interpreted. Results of the study provide pivotal policy relevant information that are essential to maximizing public health and reducing dangerous alcohol related crashes. In particular, results show that states which adopt legislation that requires mandatory participation of first time offenders in ignition interlock programs, at low blood alcohol levels, experience significant reductions in alcohol related accidents.

The second chapter of my dissertation uses detailed vehicle specifications to analyze the impact identifiable vehicle characteristics and technological progress has on fleet fuel economy by vehicle type and class. Estimates are generated following a cobb-douglas framework and an identification strategy of a widely cited American Economic Review (AER) paper developed by Christopher Knittel in 2011. Results reveal that vehicle manufactures will have a difficult task complying with the new footprint-based C.A.F.E. standards by changing identifiable vehicle characteristics alone. I also find evidence that more stringent footprint-based standards may create incentives for manufacturers to increase vehicle size to lower the burden of compliance.

My final chapter, uniquely contributes to the literature on medical marijuana laws (MML) by being the first paper to analyze the impact of MML on employee sickness absence. With evolving MML and an increasing number of states with recreational marijuana laws it will be important for economist to understand how these laws impact markets and in particular the labor market. The paper lays the groundwork for future research in this area by Utilizing the Current Population Survey, the study identifies that absences due to sickness decline following the legalization of medical marijuana. The effect is stronger in states with “lax” medical marijuana regulations, for full-time workers, and for middle-aged males, which is the group most likely to hold medical marijuana cards.