Date of Completion


Embargo Period



behavioral games, compensating wage differentials, extreme poverty, homelessness, homophily, immigration, Meatpacking industry, residential segregation, rural communities

Major Advisor

Nathan Fiala

Associate Advisor

John Bovay

Associate Advisor

Charles Towe

Field of Study

Agricultural and Resource Economics


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Campus Access


This dissertation examines under-explored aspects of rural poverty. The first chapter (previously published in Choices) examines the impact of immigration reform through a welfare economics perspective. Evidence from the meatpacking industry and the theory of compensating wage differentials suggests that Hispanic immigration is welfare improving. Hence, stricter immigration policy will likely be welfare reducing. The second chapter (coauthored with Nathan Fiala and Leticia Riva) uses lab-in-the-field experiments to perform a descriptive analysis of the level of prosocial behavior that exists within and between a homeless community is rural Connecticut. We find evidence that individuals currently experiencing homelessness are more trusting in general, compared to individuals not currently experiencing homelessness. We also find that individuals who have ever experienced homelessness behave more altruistically toward currently homeless individuals, compared to those who have not. The third chapter expands on the first chapter by examining a different aspect of the meatpacking industry, the demographic impact to host communities of large plants. Using micro-level establishment data to address a potential aggregation bias in previous research using a quasi-experimental framework, increased segregation is identified in census tracts that received a meatpacking plant, occurring both from an inflow of immigrant workers and an outflow of native residents. There is a corresponding inflow of native residents into geographically proximate census tracts, suggesting homophilic preferences in residential decisions. Alternative hypotheses are explored and refuted, which gives additional support to the homophily explanation.