Applications of Applied Econometrics in the Food and Health Economic and Agribusiness Topics
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This dissertation consists of three essays in Applied Econometrics that seek a better understanding of different aspects of risk and risk management tools. The first essay is about mortality risk in Virginia coal regions. With a focus on the mortality of non-malignant respiratory diseases (NMRD), I estimate the impact of living in a coal county and find that coal-mining county residency significantly increases the probability of dying from NMRD. This statistical association is accentuated by surface coal mining, high smoking rates, lower health insurance coverage, and a shortage of doctors. The second essay evaluates the cost of a price risk management tool called futures hedging. A variety of measures illustrate considerable changes in hedging costs over time. Quantile regression results show that substantial price volatility and high margin requirements are the main factors driving high hedging costs from 2007 to 2013. The third paper investigates a health risk management tool, a public health insurance program in China called New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS). I apply contract theory to characterize local governments' selective incentives in NCMS benefit designs. Empirical analysis of China Health and Nutrition Survey data indicate challenges of financial sustainability of this scheme in poor regions. The NCMS plan tends to under-cover the services that are moderately predictable and negatively correlated with plan profits, such as outpatient treatments. Preventive services are generally over-provided, perhaps due to the incentive to attract healthy participants.
General Audience Abstract
This dissertation uses quantitative analysis to investigate three economic problems related to different aspects of risk. The first question is, what affects the respiratory health of Virginia coal mining counties' residents? Using respiratory mortality as the variable of interest, this paper finds that surface coal mining, high smoking rates, and lack of health access jointly contribute to the elevated risk of dying from respiratory diseases in our study area. The second research problem is about a price risk management tool called "hedging": purchasing contracts in the futures market to offset price movements in the cash markets. Based on historical data of corn and soybeans, I simulate the cost of hedging and find this risk management tool is not cheap, especially in 2007 to 2013. The high cost is mainly due to substantial price fluctuations in the recent decade. As a health risk management tool, health insurance is the focus of my third study. In China rural areas, a public health scheme aimed to reduce a resident's risk of suffering medical impoverishment by spreading the risk over residents in a county. County governments were relatively free to design the implementation and benefit plans. This study reveals that most New Cooperative Medical Scheme (NCMS) benefit plans are not efficient to achieve the scheme's objective. Facing high risk of fund deficits, local insurance programs in poor regions are likely to under-cover health services, such as outpatient treatments. If this scheme were allowed to charge higher prices from high-risk enrollees instead of a flat-rate premium, its efficiency might be improved.
- Doctoral Dissertations