Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Economics (PhD)

Degree Level





Andrea Civelli

Committee Member

Michael Thomsen

Second Committee Member

Arya Gaduh


diversity, food security, health


As the world becomes more diverse and more integrated, examining how racial, political, and food diversity influences individuals’ consumption, behaviors, and health becomes more paramount than ever before. The United States grows more racially diverse with large racial and ethnic shifts on the horizon regarding the proportion of the population. With the U.S. population expected to become more diverse, individuals’ political affiliation becoming more prevalent to personal identity, and food security becoming more problematic; we examine how racial, political, and food diversity influences individuals’ consumption and preferences with the intent to understand what changes in health and preferences may occur.

These essays contribute to the literature in a novel way by understanding how the local racial, political, and food environments impact individual consumption and behavior choices. Additionally, these papers novel approaches yield strong evidence that these different measures of diversity play an important and larger role in individuals’ daily lives then realized. We utilize a cutting edge propensity score matching technique to understand the impact of the food access program WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Supplemental Health Program) in “WIC Participation and Relative Quality of Household Food Purchases: Evidence from FoodAPS” essay. In this essay, we show the health benefits participants in WIC receive when participating in the p rogram. Second, we leverage a special type of survey called a List Experiment to understand respondents’ social desirability bias given their political environment in the essay titled “Social Desirability Bias and Polling Errors in the 2016 Presidential Election.” In this essay, we show that people respond differently to the question of whether they support a particular presidential candidate when they are given the opportunity to directly or indirectly express this support. Lastly, we explore how local racial diversity directly impacts an individual’s healthy food consumption in the essay titled “Diversity and Health: Exploring Local Racial Diversity’s Impact on Health Through Food Consumption”. This final essay attempts to ascertain the associative effects of racial diversity on an individual’s healthy food consumption. This result shows the dramatic impact racial diversity has on healthy food consumption by improving individuals’ food intake, but concentrated on certain races. Overall, this dissertation shows the dramatic influence social and environmental context has on individual outcomes via health and preferences.