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People Helping People: Time as a Unique Input into Well Being

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM

Hilton Atlanta, 224
Hosted By: Association of Christian Economists
  • Chair: Sarah Hamersma, Syracuse University

Promoting Success in Community College: Emergency Assistance versus Comprehensive Case Management

William N. Evans
University of Notre Dame and NBER
Melissa Kearney
University of Maryland and NBER
Brendan Perry
University of Notre Dame
James X. Sullivan
University of Notre Dame


Community colleges are an important part of the higher education landscape in the United States, but completion rates are extremely low, especially among low-income students. Much of the existing policy and research attention to this issue has focused on addressing academic and financial challenges. However, there is ample reason to think that non-academic obstacles might be key drivers of dropout rates for students living with the burden of poverty. This study examines the impact of a comprehensive case management intervention that is designed specifically to help low-income students overcome the multitude of barriers to college completion. We evaluate the impact of this intervention through a randomized controlled trial evaluation (RCT) conducted between 2013 and 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Eligible students were randomly assigned to a treatment group that was offered comprehensive case management, including emergency financial assistance (EFA), a separate treatment group offered only EFA, or a control group. Data from school administrative records indicate that the comprehensive case management program significantly increases persistence and degree completion, especially for women. Estimates for the full sample are imprecise, but the estimates for women imply that the case management intervention tripled associate degree receipt (31 percentage point increase). We find no difference in outcomes between the EFA-only treatment arm and the control group. A back-of-the-envelope calculation using average earnings gains associated with community college completion implies that program benefits exceed program costs ($5,640 per student for three year program) after only 4.25 years in the workforce post schooling.

Volunteer Now or Later: The Effects of Effort Time Allocation on Donations

Bing Jiang
Virginia Military Institute
Monica Capra
Claremont Graduate University
Yuxin Su
Claremont Graduate University


We study how effort time allocations, where effort is tied directly to charitable contributions, affect donations. Consistent with our theoretical predictions, we find that flexibility in choosing when to allocate effort donations increases overall donations and decreases the probability to refuse to donate. People who donate through effort show a lower rate of dynamically inconsistent choices compared to monetary giving. The results are consistent with warm glow giving and provide support to the idea that effort donations (i.e., volunteering) differ, in fundamental ways, from monetary charitable donations.

Mental Health, Human Capital and Labor Market Outcomes

Christopher J. Cronin
University of Notre Dame
Matthew P. Forsstrom
Wheaton College
Nicholas W. Papageorge
Johns Hopkins University and IZA


There are two primary treatment alternatives available to those with mild to
moderate depression or anxiety: psychotherapy and medication. The medical literature
and our analysis suggests that in many cases psychotherapy, or a combination of therapy
and medication, is more curative than medication alone. However, few individuals choose
to use psychotherapy. We develop and estimate a dynamic model in which individuals
make sequential medical treatment and labor supply decisions while jointly managing mental
health and human capital. The results shed light on the relative importance of several
drawbacks to psychotherapy that explain patients’ reluctance to use it: (1) therapy has high
time costs, which vary with an individual’s opportunity cost of time and flexibility of the
work schedule; (2) therapy is less standardized than medication, which results in uncertainty
about it’s productivity for a given individual; and (3) therapy is expensive. The estimated
model is used to simulate the impacts of counterfactual policies that alter the costs associated
with psychotherapy.
Timothy M. Diette
Washington and Lee University
Sara Helms McCarty
Samford University
Matthew Harris
University of Tennessee-Knoxville
JEL Classifications
  • I0 - General
  • C7 - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory