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Essays in the economics of transportation, housing and discrimination

Tang, Cheng Keat (2018) Essays in the economics of transportation, housing and discrimination. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.oyizlvxjjjc5


This thesis consists of three papers that are related to transportation economics, housing economics, and the economics of discrimination. The first paper examines how much people are willing to pay (WTP), on average, to avoid road traffic near their residence using the housing market. The notion is that traffic confers substantial negative externalities such as congestion delays, air and noise pollution, and traffic accidents. Estimating these hedonic functions are, however, extremely challenging with omitted variable bias and sorting of households. Hence, to circumvent these challenges, I rely on the sharp variation in traffic conditions induced by the London Congestion Charge to recover the capitalization of road traffic on housing values. The second paper examines whether installing speed cameras reduces traffic accidents and saves lives. Speeding is one of the major reasons why accidents occur, and the velocity of the vehicles affects the gravity of collisions. This paper sheds insights on how the government could intervene and nudge drivers from risky behaviours that could have serious consequences. The third paper investigates whether facial attractiveness affects sentencing outcomes in courtrooms. I rely on a novel facial recognition system that locates various features from inmate mugshots to compute facial symmetry as a measure of attractiveness. This study is motivated by the burgeoning literature indicating that judges allow extraneous factors, such as race and gender of defendants, emotions and media attention, to influuence their decisions, and the widespread discrimination of appearance in multiple contexts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Cheng Keat Tang
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Overman, Henry G. and Gibbons, Stephen

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