Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Governments use a wide variety of policy instruments to achieve their goals, including price signals, constraints on firms’ behavior, and direct action. The consequences of such policies depend on how they interact with the underlying economic system. Measuring the impact of an intervention can be difficult, especially when the policy was not designed or implemented with evaluation in mind. Moreover, it is often ex ante prediction of a policy’s costs and benefits, rather than ex post evaluation, which is relevant for decision making. This dissertation examines issues related to both evaluating and predicting the effects of regulations in two important contexts: financial inclusion and industrial carbon emissions.Mandates requiring banks to open a minimum share of their new branches in un- banked villages have been a pillar of the Indian government’s rural financial inclusion strategy for decades. By explicitly linking branch licenses in banked municipalities to rural branch expansion, these mandates increase the costs of entry in banked markets and may reduce access there. In the first two chapters of this dissertation, I study the impact of a 25% unbanked share mandate implemented in July 2011 on the size, geographic distribution, and profitability of the national branch network. In the first chapter, I describe the context of the reform and use novel, comprehen- sive records of branch licenses, to document the scope of the post-reform rural branch expansion. Over 11,000 unbanked villages, home to more than 40 million people, were entered in the five years post-reform. These villages are substantially smaller, poorer, and more remote than those entered prior to the reform. In the second chapter, I use an economic model of branch entry to estimate banks’ profits, compute their regulatory compliance costs, and simulate equilibrium entry and profits under coun- terfactual policies. Compared to a free-entry counterfactual, the mandate reduces total profits from new branches by about 26% and shifts entry from banked to un- banked markets roughly one-for-one, with disproportionate losses in smaller banked markets. These costs increase rapidly in the mandatory unbanked share. Allow- ing banks to comply by trading permits in a competitive market modestly increases profits but does not result in net new entry. In the final chapter, co-authored with Katherine Wagner, we study the implica- tions of low energy prices today for industrial energy efficiency and climate policy in the future. If adjustment costs mediate manufacturing plants’ responses to increases in energy prices, incumbents may be limited in their ability to re-optimize energy- inefficient production technologies chosen based on past market incentives. Using U.S. Census data and quasi-experimental variation in state energy prices, we first show that the initial electricity prices that manufacturing plants pay in their first year of operations are important determinants of long-run energy intensity. Plants that open when the prices of electricity and fossil fuel inputs into electricity are low consume more energy throughout their lifetime, regardless of current electricity prices. We then measure the relative contributions of initial productivity and capital adjustment frictions to creating this “technology lock-in” by estimating a model of plant input choices. We find that lock-in can be largely explained by persistent differences in the relative productivity of energy inputs chosen at entry. We discuss how these long-run effects of low entry-year energy prices increase the emissions costs of delayed action on carbon policy. Cost-benefit analysis of existing and proposed regulations is central to the pol- icymaking process. This dissertation aims to provide useful insights on how recent advances in industrial organization can inform these analyses.
Hawkins-Pierot, Jonathan Thomas, "Essays in the Industrial Organization of Regulatory Policy" (2022). Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Dissertations. 605.