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Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts

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Now showing 1 - 10 of 2185
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    Three Essays on Skills and Individual Decision-Making
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-12-10) Churkina, Olga
    The dissertation examines the concept of skills, and and their impact on charitable giving behavior, labor market outcomes, and marital choices. The first essay conducts a controlled laboratory experiment, investigating the relationship between worker performance and their pro-social behavior in the context of charitable contributions. The second essay estimates the employment premium associated with online certificates in data science through a randomized field experiment. The third essay expands on a multi-period microeconomics model of educational and marital choices in developing countries. The outcomes of this study address questions that are shared concern for the academic community and policy-makers.
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    Using visualization to illustrate the values underpinning large-scale communities
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-08-01) Hughes, Galen
    Over the last three decades, the dynamic nature of internet cultures has been continually reshaping the landscape of discourse analysis. This transformation necessitates constant methodological innovation, a challenge this thesis aims to address by focusing on the role of data visualization in discourse analysis. Particularly, it investigates the cross- cultural discourse occurring in large-scale online events. I argue that data visualizations offer a potent lens for uncovering and reinforcing implicit values within online communities. They provide tangible evidence of these values, weaving together narratives from seemingly scattered data. Over the course of this study, I have delved into an impressive corpus of over 249,232 chat messages, dedicating 3 hours 17 minutes and 4 seconds to the content exploration. However, despite the power of data visualization, it's important to acknowledge its limitations. A comprehensive understanding of the community being studied is indispensable, without which the full potential of data visualization cannot be realized. In this longitudinal study, I analyze three significant live streams—1) [DEBUT STREAM] SHAAAAAARK, Sep 12th, 2020; 2) Reacting to my Debut Stream., March 13th, 2021; 3)【3D BIRTHDAY】PARTY TIME!, June 20th, 2022—hosted by the popular Virtual YouTuber (VTuber), Gawr Gura. Collectively, these events highlight an underlying aesthetic of cuteness, a value binding Gura’s community of chumbuds together. These parasocial relationships are defined by bidirectional interaction, emotional reactions, and a shared suspension of disbelief, mediated through an avatar. This constructed character facilitates a unique dynamic, where the aesthetic of cuteness becomes a cultural value. While other values exist within the community, this thesis primarily concentrates on the argument for cuteness, made evident through data visualization. These values are embodied and reinforced in the discourse patterns played out between Gawr Gura and her audience. Community actors such as clippers reinforce these patterns and values. They do so by capturing memorable stream moments, upholding community guidelines, and modeling appropriate behavior to newcomers. In conclusion, this thesis identifies and explores a model of large-scale online discourse driven by live-stream events. It highlights the significance of data visualization in analyzing this model, the patterns structuring it, and the values underpinning it. This approach offers a new dimension to the study of discourse in large-scale online communities, reflecting the continuous evolution of methods in response to the ever-changing landscape of internet cultures.
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    Analyses of Short-Run Airport Costs in the U.S.: Pre- and Post-COVID-19
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-07-27) Yang, Yushuo
    Airports are crucial for passenger and cargo transportation, as well as for employment generation and GDP growth. A better understanding of airport cost structure enables airport managers and policymakers to more efficiently allocate their limited resources and design policies, respectively. This dissertation conducts short-term multi-output cost analyses for 50 medium and large U.S. airports. Using a multi-product translog cost function methodology, the dissertation addresses three research questions: what are the effects of negative attributes on short-run airport cost structures; what impact did COVID-19 have on airport short-run operating costs; and for aircraft departures, how does the short-run marginal social cost differ from marginal private costs. Based on 2012 – 2019 data, the first essay estimates a translog cost function with three positive outputs (departures, workload, and non-aeronautical revenue) and three negative attributes (delay, congestion, and air pollution). The results show that delay and congestion have statistically significant and positive effects on airport total operating costs. Compared to the cost analysis with negative attributes, the cost analysis without negative attributes produces unreliable estimates of production properties. Extending the data to cover two COVID-19 years, 2020 and 2021, the second essay examines the effects of COVID-19 and related policies on airport short-term costs. In addition, the essay decomposes the percentage change in average variable costs between pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 periods. The results indicate that COVID-19 (cases and deaths) and associated policies (state face mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates) significantly and positively affect the total operating costs. COVID-19 cases and the time/technical efficiency effect are the two most influential factors for the percentage change in average variable costs. The third essay focuses on aircraft departures and estimates a measure of marginal social cost that includes negative externalities (delay, congestion, and air pollution). The essay examines whether the current landing fees cover marginal departure social costs. The results find that, on average, current landing fees only cover the marginal private costs but are significantly less than the marginal social costs per departure. This strongly suggests that current airport landing fees do not internalize the negative externalities, resulting in pricing inefficiency from the social perspective. Each of the three essays conducts sub-sample analyses between large and medium hubs, as well as between cargo and non-cargo airports. The results find differences across different airport types in each analysis. In summary, the dissertation uniquely contributes to existing knowledge on the impacts of negative attributes, COVID-19, and the extent to which existing landing fees fall short of the marginal social costs of airport departures. The first essay contributes by incorporating negative attributes into the airport cost analysis and examining production properties after controlling for the negative attributes. The second essay contributes by analyzing the impact of COVID-19 and related policies on airports’ short-term costs and decomposing the percentage change in average variable costs between pre-COVID-19 and COVID-19 periods, which offers new insights into the pandemic’s impact on airports’ costs and technical characteristics. The third essay contributes by estimating the marginal social cost using a broader sample and assessing the pricing efficiency of current landing fees from the social perspective.
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    Essays in Environmental and Development Economics
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-07-24) Kamble, Vikrant Kashiram
    Over the last few decades industrial growth, agricultural activities, and increasing population have contributed to accelerated environmental degradation in India. Policymakers have been implementing various strategies to curb environmental degradation and ultimately slow down climate change effects. My dissertation evaluates the mitigation responses to climate change and environmental degradation in India. The first chapter analyzes the institutional response to the loss of forest cover by implementing one of the most ambitious privately sponsored afforestation projects implemented in the Rajasthan state of India. This research finds evidence of the long-term effect of planting trees over 100,000 hectares of land on rainfall and agricultural activities in the region. We find that post-implementation of the project, Rajasthan state observed an increase in rainfall after 5-6 years. Consequently, the availability of excess water in the region leads to an increase in cultivated area, production, and yield. Contrary to existing literature, our results find that the forest and agriculture sectors can grow together sustainably. The second chapter analyses a natural experiment of closing down mining activities in the iron ore hub of India. As a result of environmental degradation due to illegal mining, the Supreme Court of India banned iron ore mining in the Karnataka State of India in 2010-11. This ban had an effect on the direct and indirect labor market affecting more than 50,000 unskilled laborers. We hypothesize that these laborers will find work in other primary sectors such as agriculture. In our analysis, we find that post-ban on mining, there was a decrease in field labor wages for male and female laborers due to a shift in labor supply. The wages bounced back after the ban was lifted in 2013. In the third chapter, the thesis discusses how individuals mitigate the effects of air pollution. This paper evaluates the labor supply decisions of married individuals affected by pollution. Using a household utility model, I find empirical evidence that due to caregiving responsibility towards their spouse, individuals are forced to adjust their participation in the labor market when their partners fell sick due to pollution exposure.
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    Productive Self and Burnout Body in Numbers: A Sociamaterial Investigation of Self-tracking and Health in China
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-07-07) Zheng, Li
    Self-tracking practices, facilitated by smartphone applications and wearables, have become increasingly popular, allowing individuals to monitor and analyze various aspects of their health such as steps, heart rates, and sleeping patterns. This individualized approach to health governance emphasizes productivity, personal responsibility, and self-surveillance. However, despite the promises of technological advancements in self-knowledge and behavioral change, the actual outcomes often fall short due to numerous factors including demanding schedules, exploitative workplaces, privacy concerns, and lack of trust. While scholars have critiqued the neoliberal model of health embedded in these technologies, it is crucial to situate the human-technology relationship within a broader social context, particularly in non-western societies. Understanding the complex interplay between technology, health, and selfhood, and how bodily data is produced, interpreted, and enacted within sociotechnical networks of health-tech, requires a nuanced examination. Empirically situated within the context of China's overworking culture, this dissertation examines the intricate relationship in sociomaterial assemblages of self-tracking and the ambivalence surrounding personal health. Through interviews, combined with digital ethnographic methods, the study draws connections between technological practices and social contexts. Drawing on theoretical frameworks from Science and Technology Studies (STS), this dissertation explores the meaning-making processes of health and fitness, the interplay between ecosystem of technology and users’ practices, and how they correspond with broader social and political context of health-tech and overworking culture. The dissertation investigates the influence of China's political economy on the health-tech market and personal pursuit of health, the ways self-tracking design and interactions shape health-related perceptions and practices, and how individuals actively navigate the intensive pursuit of health while managing potential risks through self-tracking and personal data. Based on empirical and theoretical investigations, this study concludes that the political economy of China, characterized by authoritarian governance and neoliberal techniques, has influenced the sociotechnical network by emphasizing productivity and self-actualization in an all-encompassing way. Technological practices mediate individuals' selfhood within this framework. The design of self-tracking technologies enables users to interpret health and fitness as personal achievements, aligning with the quantification and materialization of personal growth within an overworking culture. The logic of datafication and engagement, along with the pursuit of personal data, is manifested in productivity-oriented technological designs within a broader ecosystem of technological imaginaries. The promotion of technology-driven health management as tools for consumption has resulted in intensified engagements and conflicts in the ambivalence of self-care: self as source of productivity yet also vulnerable to burnout. Therefore, the relentless pursuit of productivity in the health-tech market and everyday life is often criticized by the overworked workforce as a reflection of societal "involution," an endless and purposeless competition. To counteract these trends, individuals utilize self-tracking technology and data as a means to create balance and resistance, aiming to construct a sense of self that embraces vulnerability. Technological practices act as mediators between individuals and their social contexts, particularly within the current political economy in China. In this regard, the sociomaterial assemblages of self-tracking serve as vehicles for agency, autonomy, and control in the face of stress, exploitation, precarity, and uncertainty. It is argued that critical scrutiny of technological design, as an integral component of these assemblages, should be undertaken in light of social context. Assessments of technological engagement and health outcomes should be complemented by contextual understandings of health and selfhood, leading to the reconfiguration and reaffirmation of users' agency and capacities.
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    Peer Effects and Human Capital Accumulation
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-04-30) Gu, Xin
    Human capital accumulation is not only an individual decision but also an interactive process. This dissertation studies how peers affect individual human capital accumulation in the context of in-person education and online training. Firstly, the dissertation examines classmate and close friend peer effects on the cognitive ability formation of middle school students. The results suggest that peers generate a significant positive impact on student cognitive ability development. The size of peer effects is heterogenous across student ability distribution and jointly determined by two channels, peer conformity and peer complementarity. Secondly, the dissertation investigates peer effects on the online training participation of young teachers. The virtual instruction platform data contain the accurate duration of attendance for every individual-lecture pair and allow for the control of individual, lecture, and peer group unobserved heterogeneity. The estimation shows significant positive peer effects on the likelihood of joining an online lecture and the duration of staying. The magnitude of peer effects differs by group and increases with the relationship closeness. The potential driving mechanisms are online social interactions, peer pressure, and reputation concerns. Thirdly, the dissertation develops a two-step estimator that identifies peer effects on the duration of lecture attendance by accounting for the self-selection into lecture participation. The application of the online training data demonstrates significant positive peer influences on the duration of lecture attendance. Overall, the dissertation finds strong evidence of causal peer effects on human capital formation in the traditional in-person environment as well as in the emerging online setting. It sheds light on how peer effects can be utilized to improve the effectiveness of human capital accumulation.
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    Designing the Open Work World
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-04-27) Stricklin, Claire Stella
    Situated at the intersection of performance studies and game studies, this dissertation examines the shift in perspective between playing for one’s own entertainment and playing for the benefit of an outside audience. Its focus is in the genre of "actual play" — streamed or recorded audio / video programs featuring tabletop roleplaying games (TRPGs) as a core component of their content. When taken in isolation, traditional TRPGs offer clear models of interaction for each participant, with game designers, game masters, and players exerting differing degrees of agency and authority over a shared narrative. With the addition of digital mediation, however, that established constellation shifts. This dissertation considers the various socio-technical elements that shape such a move, emphasizing the role of the audience in shaping performance as much as the players’ transformation into performers beyond the game’s magic circle. The three studies designed for this research include a corpus analysis of YouTube comments drawn from actual play audiences; a grounded theory exploration of the ways streamers change their habits and their gameplay for outside audiences; and a process of research through design that culminates in an experimental actual play using a mechanical audience proxy. Altogether, these efforts seek to reconfigure audience/performer relationships, open new avenues for game design, and situate actual play as a new site for experimentation and innovation between the producers and consumers of media.
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    Designing Controllers for Collaborative Play
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-04-27) Truesdell, Erin J.K.
    Physical inputs are an integral part of the play-experience in digital games. Recent advances in technology and controller creation have led to a proliferation of a great variety of game controllers outside the console gamepad and mouse-and-keyboard paradigm. These alternative controllers offer a broad space of design opportunities and can be configured to support a wide variety of interaction types and amplify digital game mechanics. Alternative controllers are particularly well-suited to collaborative play contexts because they may be designed to take multiple or complementary inputs and thus support multiple simultaneous users. However, there are few resources specific to collaborative alternative controllers available to designers. My work applies cognitive approaches to human-computer interaction to play to generate a holistic understanding of the relationship between the physical affordances of controllers and the sense-making experiences of players. This allows for the generation of actionable design guidelines that take into account both physical design choices and players' social experiences and the establishment of a novel means of quantifying collaborative embodied gameplay. This dissertation includes four primary contributions: 1) the development of three themes and a taxonomy for collaborative alternative controllers; 2) the documented development of three boundary objects for the purpose of investigating players' sense-making processes with each; 3) the first use of creative sense-making analysis to describe and quantify goal-oriented embodied collaborative play; and 4) a series of design principles developed from an annotated portfolio of the boundary artifacts developed for this thesis and annotation of creative sense-making curves for each. In addition to contributing specifically to the field of alternative game controllers and design for collaborative play, this work contributes to research in games and play studies, tangible and embodied interaction design, and human-centered computing.
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    Multidimensional poverty, telehealth, and perinatal healthcare
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-04-26) Dong, Xiaoyu
    This dissertation commences with an evaluation of multidimensional poverty in America among various racial and ethnic groups throughout the past decade. The analysis reveals that a higher and notable percentage of individuals face deprivation evidenced through health indicators, regardless of their race or ethnicity, compared to the other four indicators. To delve deeper into this issue, the next two theses concentrate on the impact of public health policies on reducing health costs and enhancing health outcomes. The first thesis presents alternative indices to estimate multidimensional poverty in the USA over the last decade with a focus on analyzing trends by race and ethnicity. Individual level data on five different dimensions of well-being were compiled over the last decade using annual Census surveys. The results indicate a decline in multidimensional poverty over time, with different indices highlighting different aspects of poverty. The second thesis investigates the impact of telehealth parity laws (TPLs) on healthcare expenses. TPLs remove barriers for patients from using telehealth services, and the study finds that passing TPLs decreased total healthcare expenses, hospital care expenses, and physician service expenses significantly. The effects were observed to increase over time, suggesting that telehealth could be an effective substitute for in-person visits in reducing healthcare costs. The final thesis examines the impact of e-cigarette policies on birth outcomes, specifically the effects of vaping during pregnancy on birth weight and compares the results with smoking only and dual-use. The study finds negative effects of vaping on birth outcomes, but these effects are about half the magnitude of those associated with smoking alone on birth weight. Overall, this dissertation sheds light on the issue of multidimensional poverty and the impact of public health policies on reducing health expenses and improving health outcomes. This highlights the importance of considering multiple dimensions of poverty, the potential benefits of telehealth and effective policy interventions in improving public health.
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    Development Finance as the Foreign Policy Tool of Choice United States And China In Africa as a Case of Great Power Competition
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2023-04-12) Meredith, Wesley
    The debate on Great Power Competition (GPC) is traditionally framed within the space of security and is thus viewed through the lens of hard power and military might. This framing, however, may be counterproductive, as it has the potential to cause policy makers operating in the traditional framework to narrow their field of vision and miss how the current great powers are competing in Africa. With respect to Africa, and how U.S.-China GPC is playing out, official development finance (ODF) has developed as a tool of this competition. The data has shown that China has given varying amounts of aid to different countries during different years. Conversely, the United States has given sustained levels of ODF to 48 Sub-Sahara African (SSA) countries examined over the 20- year period from 2000 to 2019. This dissertation examines the total amount of ODF given by each country, and tests the motivations for ODF as it relates to GPC. For U.S. disbursement of ODF to countries in SSA, five findings matter: a historical disbursement of ODF, poverty, population, corruption, and violence. For Chinese ODF, three things matter: population, gross national income per capita, and resources. Are these motivations complementary or antagonistic, and what does this mean for the future of GPC between the United States and China in Africa? In areas, such as corruption, the research demonstrated that the motivations work counter to one another. In areas, such as security in Africa, the motivations for U.S. and Chinese ODF have the potential to work at cross-purposes. When it comes to ideological alignment in UN voting, the research demonstrates that in the case of extreme ends of the funding spectrum, the votes trend in favor of the predominant donor.