Date of Award

August 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Scott J. Adams

Committee Members

Scott Drewianka, John S. Heywood, Suyong Song, Owen Thompson


Catholic Schools, Child Abuse Scandal, Human Papillomavirus, Moral Hazard, Pap Test, School Mandate


The goal of this dissertation is to apply empirical methodologies to analyze multiple topics in economics of education and health economics which have clear policy implications.

Chapter 1 analyzes the effect of negative publicity of child abuse scandal on Catholic schools. Public notices of child abuse have surrounded Catholic Church leadership for decades, but intensified after the 2002 coverage by the Boston Globe and the ensuing accelerated media coverage. Using diocese level panel data of Catholic school enrollment, reports of abuse after 2002 appear to have a negative, long-lasting effect on both demand and supply of Catholic schools. No effect is observed from notices prior to 2002, suggesting the public awareness of the scandal from abuse reports, combined with mass media coverage, led to observable effects on Catholic School enrollment. Public notices of allegations related to the abuse scandal can explain about two-thirds of the decline in Catholic school enrollment share and the number of Catholic schools.

Chapter 2 studies the effect of various state level policies as well as receiving a physician recommendation on the decision to uptake Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted source of infection in the United States. Recently, two vaccines were developed to provide immunization against certain types of HPV. In addition to physician recommendations to take these vaccines, different states have adopted a wide range of policies in order to increase the vaccination rate, specifically among younger females. In this study, I use survey data to examine the effect of the two most common adopted policies, school mandates and provision of educational content for parents about the virus and its immunization, as well as the effects of physician recommendations. The results indicate that the effect of policies on encouraging the HPV vaccination has been very limited at best, but the effect of receiving a physician's advice for the HPV immunization is significant.

Chapter 3 attempts to investigate the behavioral response to HPV vaccine. Immunization can cause moral hazard by reducing the cost of risky behaviors. In this study, I examine the effect of HPV vaccination on participation in Papanicolaou test (Pap test). The Pap test is a diagnostic screening test to detect potentially precancerous and cancerous process in the transformation zone. The Pap test is strongly recommended for women between 21-65 years old even after taking the HPV vaccine. If there is a reduction in willingness to have a Pap test as a result of HPV vaccination, it should be a concern for public health policy makers. The results show no evidence of moral hazard, more specifically in the short-run. The estimates range from zero to a positive effect of HPV vaccine initiation on having a Pap test.