Becky Lester won the 2015 MIT Sloan thesis prize for her examination of the effect of a major corporate tax incentive on manufacturing investment in the United States.
The paper, “ Made in the U.S.A.? A Study of Firm Responses to Domestic Production Incentives [PDF],” found the deduction had a positive impact on manufacturing spending. Lester also found companies shift income over time and in some cases into the United States to take advantage of the tax break. She did not find an effect on employment.
President Barack Obama has proposed expanding the deduction, while legislators have tried to repeal it four times. Lester said her work could inform that ongoing policy debate.
Mabel Abraham secured second prize with “Explaining Unequal Returns to Social Capital Among Entrepreneurs.” Abraham studied networking groups and found that women received 20 percent fewer referrals to potential clients outside of the group compared with their male peers. She called this “anticipatory third-party bias,” in which referrers assume that their connections will prefer to hire men.
Lester received $3,000 for first place. Abraham received $2,000 for second place. The pair, along with eight other PhD candidates, presented their work March 20 on campus to a panel of three judges: Hazhir Rahmandad, PhD ’05; Mary Tripsas, PhD ’96; and Felipe Severino, PhD ’14, who won the prize last year for his research on how bankruptcy protection affects personal debt and defaults.
Other PhD candidates presenting research at the event were:
Fernanda Bravo Plaza: “A Risk-sharing Pricing Contract in B2B Service Supply Chains: An Application to Healthcare”
Song Lin: “Add-on Policies Under Vertical Differentiation: Why do Luxury Hotels Charge for Internet whereas Economy Hotels do not”
Indrajit Mitra: “Aggregate Dynamics in an Economy with Optimal Long-term Financing”
Nell Putnam-Farr: “Yes/No/Not Right Now. Yes/No Response Formats can Increase Response Rate Even in Non-Forced-Choice Settings”
Hong Ru: “Government Credit, a Double-edged Sword: Evidence from the China Development Bank”
Eunhee Sohn: “Reverse Knowledge Spillovers from Industry to Academia: Evidence from the Agricultural Biotechnology Revolution”
Andrew Weaver: “Skill Demands and Mismatch in U.S. Manufacturing: Evidence and Implications”
Yu Xu: “Growth, Liquidity Provision, International Reserves, and Sovereign Debt Capacity”