Capstone Courses and Projects

Applied Research Capstone

The Effect of the Minimum Wage on Welfare Participation: A Longitudinal Study by State
The Capstone team examined the relationship between the minimum wage and welfare participation by state over a period of 27 years. The study used state and year fixed effects and controlled for a considerable number of state economic factors, as well as selected demographic characteristics. Exploring a number of different model specifications, the team found a higher minimum wage (in real dollars) to be associated with decreased welfare participation. This relationship was statistically significant and of considerable size. These findings suggest that raising the real minimum wage will not increase welfare participation, and furthermore, may have the effect of diminishing states' welfare rolls. The report's conclusions explore alternative theories that may explain this relationship.

Applied Research Capstone

Impact of Subsidies on Bus Transit System Cost Efficiency
The Capstone team evaluated the impact of external subsidies on the cost efficiency of bus transit systems in the United States. The work updates previous empirical studies written mainly in the late 1970s and early 1980s that found significant negative impact. The study analyzed a set of annual panel data for approximately 300 bus systems across the late 1990s. Despite the sizeable shifts in organization and structure of mass transit subsidies since the earlier set of subsidies, the research found that external subsidies still result in higher operating costs per passenger miles. The study concludes with several recommendations that may remedy this effect.

Applied Research Capstone

Higher Education Research Project: Do College Characteristics Predict Student Success?
The Capstone team studied the relationship between college characteristics and student success, both in completing college and in the job market. Three dependent variables were tested: job salary, job satisfaction, and the time taken to graduate. The job-related data describe students four years after college graduation. The research showed that private university attendance is a significant factor that affects salary and time to graduate. Other characteristics like school size are not significant. Findings also demonstrated that some factors have a larger impact on these variables—choice of major for instance—than college characteristics. Policy implications for student college choice are apparent: college choice may not have a large effect on later job success.

Applied Research Capstone

Nonprofit Financial Accountability: Does Self-Regulation Work?
The mission of the Wise Giving Alliance (WGA), a national organization affiliated with the Better Business Bureau, is to monitor nonprofits that receive the majority of their funding from private contributions. Nonprofits are rated as passing or failing on certain standards regarding transparency, spending, governance, and fundraising costs. The data used to determine compliance is either self-submitted or retrieved from the IRS Form 990 that all nonprofits above a certain production level are required to file. Defining financial accountability in terms of percent spent on program services (dollars spent on programs/total revenue for that fiscal year), the team used regression analysis to examine if compliance to these standards is significantly related to spending—essentially if the WGA measures the right organizational components or inputs, and if so, which of these are most highly correlated and need to be focused on in the future. The research question also challenges the validity of the standards: do they actually matter? Are they measuring essential organizational components? The study concludes with comments on self-regulation and the potential need for government regulation to monitor the tax-exempt status granted by the federal government. The results of the regression on the standards can be used to hone in on areas to inform policymaking decisions as well as efforts of organizations focused on improving nonprofit infrastructure.

Applied Research Capstone

The Foreign Born and Their Effects on the Median Family Income in New York City Community Districts
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 1965 ended four decades of national origins quotas. Millions of immigrants mainly from Latin America and Asia flooded the nation’s “gateway cities” to pursue the American Dream. The effects of immigration have been a topic of policy debate for over a century. The arguments to keep immigrants from landing on our shores are not new. The main argument has been that immigrants have less earning power and drive incomes down. In 2000, roughly 36 percent of New York City residents were foreign born, an increase from 28 percent in the decade prior. During this same period, median family income fell by 6.6 percent. This study seeks to answer what effect the number of immigrants in a given community district has on median family income. Does an increase of the foreign born increase or decrease the median family income by community district?

Applied Research Capstone

The Impact of Foreign Aid on Infant Mortality in Developing Countries
Previous studies on the impact of foreign aid on infant mortality do not account for the effect of government corruption and political regime, potentially biasing the results. This study analyzes the impact of foreign aid on infant mortality controlling for corruption, political regime, debt service, female education, and health spending. The study uses a country and year fixed effects design, using data from 1997 and 2000 for a sample of 54 countries. The study's dataset was compiled from various sources: World Bank, United Nations, World Health Organization, and Freedom House.

Applied Research Capstone

Gentrification in New York City
The process of gentrification is composed of the physical improvements, demographic transformation, and socio-economic tensions and conflicts created within a community as new residents of higher income and education levels enter and settle in large numbers. Identifying key sub-borough areas where the process of gentrification has been particularly evident, the Capstone team attempted to discern the effects of gentrification on rent within the communities and displacement of long term low-income residents. The findings demonstrate that gentrified communities do experience a significant increase in rent, while the effects on displacement are less clear. While in the short term, gentrified communities appear to experience less displacement than the median numbers for sub-boroughs citywide, it is the Capstone team’s contention that secondary displacement has occurred in these neighborhoods as a component of the transformation brought on by gentrification.