PhD Dissertation Award


About the Award for Best Dissertation in Public Policy and Management

The Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) seeks to recognize emergent scholars in the field by presenting an award for the best PhD dissertation in public policy and management. The winner will be honored at the 2019 Fall Research Conference.

For the 2019 nominations, any dissertation that has been completed in the academic years 2017 - 2018 or 2018 - 2019, and granted a degree in that period, is eligible for consideration. No dissertation that has been completed prior to May 1, 2017 will be accepted and previously submitted dissertations will not be considered. Dissertations from any discipline are acceptable as long as they deal substantively with public policy issues and are nominated by a faculty member of a public policy program that is an institutional member of APPAM. (The faculty member need not be the major adviser or supervisor of the student’s dissertation, but can nominate the dissertation based on the belief that it makes a strong contribution to policy analysis.)
Nominations must come from institutional members of APPAM. Please send both a letter of nomination (with the nominee’s current address, e-mail address, and phone number) carefully detailing the unique contributions this dissertation makes to the field and a digital copy of the dissertation to the APPAM office via email to Samantha Oliver at soliver@appam.orgThe deadline for nominations is Friday, July 12, 2019 at 11:59 PM PT.
Winners receive a cash award in the amount of $1,500 in addition to a plaque, recognition at the annual Fall Research Conference, and publication of an abstract in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management (JPAM). A separate grant covering travel costs to the Fall Research Conference will also be provided. The award winner and two honorable mentions will be given an opportunity to display posters of their dissertations during the conference.

About the 2018 Recipient: Garima Siwach, American Institutes for Research

PhD_Dissertation_Award_Winner_-_Garima_SiwachGarima Siwach is an Economic Researcher at the American Institutes for Research. Her work focuses on employment-related interventions for marginalized populations, including those with disabilities, individuals with criminal records, and transition youth from low-income households.

Siwach earned her PhD in Economics from the University at Albany, State University of New York, in 2017. Her dissertation, entitled Impact of Employment Barriers on Individuals with Criminal Records: An Econometric Evaluation of Criminal Background Checks in New York, is at the intersection of economics, public policy and criminology and won the University at Albany Distinguished Dissertation Award in 2017. The dissertation is structured as three essays. Using data from New York State, Siwach analyzed individuals with criminal records who were provisionally hired for work in non-licensed direct access care position in 2008 and 2009.

In chapter one, entitled “Unemployment Shocks for Individuals on the Margin: Exploring the Recidivism Effects,” she estimates the effect of employment denials in background checks. Chapter two, “Criminal Background Checks and Recidivism: Bounding the Causal Impact,” tracks three years of employment history for these individuals, and chapter three, “Predictive Analytics in the World of Legal Mandates: An Empirical Evaluation of Strategies for Criminal Background Checks in Employment,” shows that “background check decisions could create unequal opportunities for minorities since minorities are more likely to have criminal records.”

“The results of this paper are of considerable practical importance. I expect it to draw much attention from policy makers in the near future. By all means, Garima’s dissertation is an excellent example of research with direct policy relevance,” wrote a member of Siwach’s dissertation committee. “What distinguishes her research from the existing papers is that she takes the so-called “micro” approach rather than the “macro” approach. While most researches use aggregate data such as county-level or state-level crime rates, she directly uses individual-level data on criminal records and employment."

The 2018 selection committee included H. Elizabeth Peters (chair), Urban Institute, Joseph Cordes, George Washington University, Kenneth Couch, University of Connecticut, and Jason Fletcher, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Siwach received this award during the Membership and Awards Breakfast on Friday, November 9, at the 2018 Fall Research Conference. 


Prior Winners

2017 - 2018

Garima Sawich, University at Albany, State University of New York 
Impact of Employment Barriers on Individuals with Criminal Records: An Econometric Evaluation of Criminal Records in New York 
Honorable mentions:
Y. Nina Gao, University of Chicago and Allison C. Kelly, University of Washington

2016 - 2017

Mallory Flowers, Georgia Tech School of Public Policy
Green Certification Pathways: The Roles of Public Goods, Private Goods and Certification Schemes
Honorable mentions:
Alan Zarychta, University of Colorado - Boulder

2015 - 2016

Vincent Reina, University of Southern California, Sol Price School of Public Policy
The Impact of Mobility and Government Rental Subsidies on the Welfare of Households and Affordability of Markets
Honorable mentions:
Eric Roberts, John Hopkins University and Daniel Sebastian Tello-Trillo, Vanderbilt University


Manasi Deshpande, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Essays on the Effects of Disability Insurance
Honorable mentions:
Alexander Smith, University of Virginia and Gabriel Cardona-Fox, University of Texas, Austin


Anjali Adukia, Harvard University
The Role of Basic Needs in Educational Decisions: Essays in Education and Development Economics
Honorable mention:
Sara Heller, University of Chicago


Sarah Anzia, University of California, Berkeley
Election Timing and the Political Influence of the Organized
Honorable mention:
Hosung Sohn, University of California, Berkeley


Daeho Kim, Brown University
Essays in Health Economics
Honorable mentions:
Chloe Gibbs, University of Chicago
Christopher Robert, Harvard University JFK School of Government


Kurt Lavetti, University of California-Berkeley
Essays on the Estimation of Prices in Implicit Markets
Honorable mentions:
Cassandra Marie Doll Hart, Northwestern University


Heidi Williams, MIT
Essays on Technological Change in Healthcare Markets
Honorable mentions:
Kristin Seefeldt, University of Michigan
Judith Scott-Clayton, Harvard University JFK School of Government

2008 - 2009

Steven Hemelt, University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Essays in Education Policy: Accountability, Achievement, and Access
Honorable mentions:
None recognized for this year 


Haitao Yin, University of Pennsylvania
The Environmental and Economic Impacts of Environmental Regulations: The Case of Underground Storage Tank Regulations
Honorable mentions:
Maria Fitzpatrick, University of Virginia
Jeremy Rosner, University of Maryland


Christopher Herbst, University of Maryland-College Park
Effects of Social Policy Reforms and the Economy on Welfare Participation and Employment of Single Mothers
Honorable mentions:
Douglas Carr, University of Kentucky 
Stephanie Cellini, University of California-Los Angeles


Kilkon Ko, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs 
Behaviors of Policy Analysts in Public Investment Decisions: How Policy Analysts Make Decisions
Honorable mentions:
Leah Brooks, University of California-Los Angeles
Elizabeth Votruba-Drzal, Northwestern University


Asim Zia, Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy
Cooperative and Non-Cooperative Decision Behaviors in Response to the Inspection and Maintenance Program in the Atlanta Airshed, 1997-2001
Honorable mentions:
Margaret Patrick Haist, University of Kentucky
Sergio Fernandez, University of Georgia


Shreyasi Jha, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Linkages Between Trade and Liberalization and Environmental Policy: Evidence from India
Honorable mentions:
Zhong Yi Tong, University of Maryland
Jesse Levin, University of Amsterdam and Tinbergen Institute


Rucker Johnson, University of Michigan
Essays on Urban Spatial Structure, Job Search and Job Mobility
Honorable mentions:
R. Karl Rethemeyer, Harvard University JFK School of Government
Gail Corrado, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill


Mark Long, University of Michigan
The Effects of Education Policy on College Entry and Household Savings
Honorable mentions:
Brian Jacob, University of Chicago
Katherine Magnuson, Northwestern University


Jacob Hacker, Yale University
Boundary Wars: Political Struggle Over Public and Private Social Benefits in the U.S.
Honorable mentions:
Jean Marie Abraham, Carnegie Mellon University
Shanti Rabindran Gamper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Susanna Loeb, University of Michigan
Economic Analyses of Elementary and Secondary School Resource Provision
Honorable mentions:
Laura J. Dugan, Carnegie Mellon University
Patrick McEwan, Stanford University


Meredith Phillips, Northwestern University
Early Inequalities: The Development of Ethnic Differences in Academic Achievement During Childhood
Honorable mentions:
Karen Baehler, University of Maryland
Carol Silva, University of Rochester


Kevin Volpp, University of Pennsylvania
Market-based Reforms and the Impact on Quality of Care: An Examination of the Quality Impacts of the Transition from Hospital Rate-Setting to Price Competition in New Jersey
Honorable mentions:
Kim Rueben, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Katherine Baicker, Harvard University JFK School of Government


Xavier De Souza Briggs, Harvard University JFK School of Government
Brown Kids in White Suburbs: Housing Mobility, Neighborhood Effects and the Social Capital of Poor Youth
Honorable mentions:
Ingrid Gould Ellen, New York University
Rebecca London, Northwestern University


Sheila E. Murray, University of Maryland-College Park
Two Essays on the Distribution of Education Resources and Outcomes


Johannes M. Bos, New York University Wagner School of Public Service
The Labor Market Value of Remedial Education: Evidence from Time Series Data on an Experimental Program for School Dropouts


Kathryn A. Foster, Princeton University Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Special Districts and the Political Economy of Metropolitan Service Delivery
Thomas J. Nechyba, University of Rochester
Fiscal Federalism and Local Public Finance: A General Equilibrium Approach with Voting


Kenneth Langa, University of Chicago Harris School of Policy Studies
Medicaid Cost-Containment in the 1980s: Did It Encourage Interpayer Differences in Hospital Care


Thomas J. Kane, Harvard University JFK School of Government
College Entry by Blacks Since 1970: The Role of Tuition, Financial Aid, Local Economic Conditions and Family Background 
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