Original Research and Analysis: Graduate Thesis Edition

This volume marks the third annual Georgetown Public Policy Review Graduate Thesis Edition, showcasing the sound research and policy analysis conducted by recent McCourt School of Public Policy graduates. As part of the McCourt capstone experience, students have the option of completing a quantitative thesis in partial fulfillment of the Master of Public Policy degree at Georgetown University. The Graduate Thesis Edition is reserved for those theses that showcase superior and relevant policy analysis and particularly thoughtful writing.

The Graduate Thesis Edition is peer reviewed by Georgetown faculty and publishes condensed versions of the authors’ original theses. The result has been a powerful addition to The Review’s annual journals that draw on empirical analysis from the broader academic and policy communities.

coverUtilizing a new historical data source on news of international civil unrest, Christopher Adams assesses the link between food security and political instability. In contrast to some prior studies, Adams finds a positive relationship between absolute levels of food security and political protests, while increases in relative changes in food security within a country result in a decrease in instability. His analysis suggests the need for nuance within the study of food security and United States foreign aid polices.

Drawing upon data from the first year of implementation, author David Dickey-Griffith explores the impact of the School Improvement Grant Program (SIG) on outcomes in Texas public schools. Dickey-Griffith’s analysis suggests that SIG has a negative or insignificant relationship with student achievement but may have a positive relationship with high school graduation rates. These results provide a foundation for follow-up work to examine the long-term impact of the SIG program.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is designed to help countries rich in natural resources to disclose corporate payments and allow external audits. Fernando Londoño estimates that countries that join EITI experience an increase in foreign direct investment, lending validation to the incentives of the program.

In her work, Katherine Morris examines the validity of the popular United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food desert metric for predicting local obesity rates. She finds that the scarcity of food resources in a community has a positive and significant relationship with county-level obesity but that the size of correlation is relatively small in magnitude. Her results suggest a need for further evaluation and refinement of the USDA measure.

Continuing the theme of domestic food policy, Catlin Nchako examines the sensitivity of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to changes in low-skilled unemployment. He finds a positive and significant relationship between unemployment among low-skilled individuals and SNAP take-up rates, indicating that participation in the food program is countercyclical to local economic conditions.

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