Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Thomas J. Kniesner


Property Value, Medical Malpractice

Subject Categories



This dissertation studies three examples of public policies having consequences other than those intended when the policy was passed. They demonstrate that due to the interconnectedness of the economy, the intended effect of a policy is rarely the sole effect.

The first essay examines the Texas Top 10% Plan. This policy guarantees automatic admission to their state university of choice for all high school seniors who graduate in the top 10% of their high school class. The essay shows evidence that households reacted strategically to this policy by moving to neighborhoods with lower-performing schools, increasing property values by 4.9 percent in those areas relative to areas with slightly better performing schools. The effect is strongest among schools that were the lowest performing before the change in policy; and weakens as the previous performance of the school district increases. These strategic reactions were influenced by the number of local schooling options available: areas that had fewer school choices showed no reaction to the Top 10% Plan.

The second essay examines individual differences in the effects of medical malpractice tort reforms on pre-trial settlement speed and settlement amounts by age and likely settlement size. I focus on changes in the value of settlements for those trying to receive quick compensation - an understudied but very important population. Findings of note include that, unlike previously assumed, losses from tort reform among infants are small in an asset value sense and that the prime-aged working population that are the most negatively affected by tort reform, losing over 50 percent of the value of their mean settlements post reform. Maximum entropy quantile results show that the median expected settlement losses are often the most informative for policy evaluation and differ greatly from mean policy effects.

The third essay uses the implementation of medical malpractice damage caps in several states, and a panel of private insurance claims to identify the effect of damage caps on the amount physicians charge to insurance companies and the amount that insurance companies reimburse physicians for medical services. In most cases the amount that physicians charge insurers does not change, but the amount that insurers reimburse physicians (which is the price seen in the market) decreases. I estimate price reductions as large as 14.5 percent for specific procedures.


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