This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Three Essays in Applied Microeconomics




Cole, Samuel

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation



Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



These three essays relate to various areas of microeconomics, including labor, health, and education economics. In Chapter One, we investigate the relationship between primary care clinic performance and managerial turnover. Results show that profit in a year is a strong indicator of whether the administrator will keep their job in the next year, although the clinics are certified as non-profits. The effect is asymmetric. Positive profits contribute more to an administrator’s chance of keeping their job than negative profits reduce it. In an extension analysis, we provide evidence that suggests new clinic managers improve their community’s health. In Chapter Two, we study the allocation of and compensation for occupational COVID-19 risk at Auburn University. We find lower-ranked graduate student teaching assistants and adjunct instructors were systematically recruited to deliver riskier classes during the Spring 2021 semester. Using an IV strategy in which teaching risk is shifted by classroom features (geometry and furniture), we show instructors who taught at least one risky class earned $7,400 more than those who did not. Finally, Chapter Three evaluates the importance of the Role Model effect in college classrooms under the premise that relatively younger students are more likely to look up to their professor as a role model compared to students who are older than their instructor. Using data from a Carnegie R1 university, our results support the importance of the Role Model effect. Specifically, we show that students whose races are the same as their professors earn higher grades in their courses (an increase of 0.1-0.2 on a 4.0 scale), but only if they are significantly younger than their professors. Benefits from student-teacher race matches do not accrue to older students.