Dissertation Defense: “Essays in Applied Microeconomics” Anna Jaskiewicz

Date and Time
North Hall 2111


Anna Jaskiewicz, PhD Candidate, University of California, Santa Barbara


I am a PhD candidate in the Economics Department and a Graduate Associate at the Broom Center for Demography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. My current research centers on how exposure to local crime impacts health outcomes for marginalized communities.

In my job market paper, I study if and how anti-Black hate crimes exacerbate Black-White disparities in health. I find that exposure to local anti-Black hate crimes negatively impacts health outcomes of Black (but not White) individuals and I detect these adverse effects at various stages of the life course, from infancy to adulthood. I have presented this work at major disciplinary conferences, including the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America and the Annual Conference of the American Society of Health Economists.

I have served as an Instructor of Record for five quarters and as a Head Teaching Assistant for eight quarters, managing teams of up to 17 Teaching Assistants and guiding cohorts of over 700 students. My dedication to teaching has been acknowledged through my receipt of the Departmental Outstanding Undergraduate TA Award three times over the past five years.

Before attending UCSB, I received a BA in Economics (summa cum laude) from New York University in Shanghai. Starting in Fall 2024, I will be joining the Kania School of Management at the University of Scranton as an Assistant Professor of Economics.


The first chapter studies the impact of anti-Black hate crimes on health outcomes of Black Americans. In 2019, hate crimes reported in the United States rose to the highest level in a decade. High exposure to race-motivated violence may induce psychological stress among Black individuals, contributing to racial disparities in health. In this paper, I conduct two separate yet complementary studies that document the adverse effects of anti-Black hate crimes on the health outcomes of Black infants and adults. First, I leverage a rich data set consisting of all nationwide birth records from the National Center for Health Statistics to show that in utero exposure to local anti-Black aggravated assaults is associated with lower birth weights and shorter gestation lengths among Black infants. Second, using restricted-access Emergency Department Data from the California Department of Health Care Access and Information, I find an increase in the volume of chest pain-related Emergency Department visits among Black adults following an anti-Black aggravated assault in their area of residence. In contrast to these results, I report that the effects on White infants and adults are negligible in magnitude and largely insignificant. Taken together, this suggests that stress associated with exposure to local anti-Black hate crimes may be a contributor to the racial health disparities present in the United States.

The second chapter, co-authored with Michael Topper, explores how in utero exposure to gunshot noise affects birth outcomes of mothers in California. Gun violence is ubiquitous across the United States, with gun-related deaths reaching an all-time high in 2021. The prevalence of gunfire results in loud and potentially stress-inducing sounds, which may adversely affect critical stages of in utero development. However, gunfire is largely unreported, creating a unique challenge for researchers to understand its consequences. In this paper, we mitigate this shortcoming by leveraging data from ShotSpotter—an acoustic gunshot technology which uses an array of sensors placed on city structures to detect the sound of gunfire. We combine this unique data source with the universe of births from nine California cities, each matched to a mother's residence. Using the variation in gunfire detections from ShotSpotter at the census-block level, we employ a difference-in-differences methodology and find that gunshot noise creates substantial increases in very low birth weight (< 1,500 grams) and very pre-term births (< 32 weeks). These effects are driven by times of the day when mothers are likely to be at-home and are particularly concentrated among mothers with low levels of education. These results suggest that gunshot noise is a major factor contributing to the income inequities in pregnancy outcomes.

The last chapter--joint work with Dingyue (Kite) Liu, Ruth Morales, and Jinglan (Caroline) Zhang--is a field experiment investigating if online leaderboards can positively shape student study behaviors. Procrastination is a common occurrence in everyday life, particularly among students. In this paper, we explore the implementation of a gamified leaderboard within an undergraduate economics course to assess its impact on class engagement and procrastination reduction. The leaderboard is integrated within weekly online assignments, auto-graded using an AI-assisted platform. Students achieving a full score and submitting their work earlier are ranked higher on the leaderboard. Our results suggest that the treated group, i.e., the group exposed to the leaderboard, exhibits earlier completion times relative to the control group. i.e., the group not exposed to the leaderboard. This points to the positive influence of gamified leaderboards on reducing procrastination tendencies and motivating students to complete tasks earlier.

JEL codes: I14, I18, K42, A22

Event Details

Join us to hear Anna’s dissertation defense. She will be defending her dissertation, “Essays in Applied Microeconomics To access a copy of the  dissertation, you must have an active UCSB NetID and password.