Research

Publications

The Effects of Local Industrial Pollution on Students and Schools” with Claudia Persico, Accepted at Journal of Human Resources

Using detailed education data between 1996-2012 from the state of Florida, we examine whether pollution from local Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) sites affects student achievement and high stakes accountability school rankings. Using event study and difference-in-differences designs, we compare students attending schools within one mile of a TRI site that opens or closes to students attending schools between one and two miles away. We find that being exposed to air pollution is associated with 0.024 of standard deviation lower test scores, increased likelihood of suspension from school, and increased likelihood that a school’s overall high stakes accountability ranking will drop.

Working Papers

“The Role of Heterogeneous Risk Preferences, Discount Rates, and Earnings Expectations in College Major Choice” with Arpita Patnaik, Matthew Wiswall, and Basit Zafar (revise and resubmit, Journal of Econometrics)

In this paper, we estimate a rich model of college major choice using a panel of experimentally derived data. Our estimation strategy combines two types of data: data on self-reported beliefs about future earnings from potential human capital decisions, and survey-based measures of risk and time preferences. We show how to use this data to identify a general life-cycle model, allowing for rich patterns of heterogeneous beliefs and preferences. Our data allow us to separate perceptions about the degree of risk or perceptions about the current versus future payoffs for a choice from the individual’s preference for risk and patience. Comparing our estimates of the general model to estimates of models which ignore heterogeneity in risk and time preferences,
we find that these restricted models are likely to overstate the importance of earnings to major choice. Additionally, we show that while men are less risk averse and patient than women, gender differences in non-pecuniary tastes, rather than gender differences in risk aversion and patience over earnings, are the primary driver of gender gaps in major choice.

“Undue Burden Beyond Texas: An Analysis of Abortion Clinic Closures, Births, And Abortions in Wisconsin” with Jason Fletcher NBER Working Paper no. 2632, October 2019 (In Submission)

In this paper, we estimate the impacts of abortion clinic closures on access to clinics in terms of distance and congestion, abortion rates, and birth rates. Legislation regulating abortion providers enacted in Wisconsin in 2011-2013 ultimately led to the closure of two of five abortion clinics in Wisconsin, increasing the average distance to the nearest clinic to 55 miles and distance to some counties to over 100 miles. We use a difference-in-differences design to estimate the effect of change in distance to the nearest clinic on birth and abortion rates, using within-county variation across time in distance to identify the effect. We find that a hundred-mile increase in distance to the nearest clinic is associated with 25 percent fewer abortions and 4 percent more births. We see no significant effect of increased congestion at remaining clinics on abortion rates. We find significant racial disparities in who is most affected by abortion clinic closures, with increases in distance increasing birth rates significantly more for Black, Asian, and Hispanic women. Our results suggest that even small numbers of clinic closures can result in significant restrictions to abortion access of similar magnitude to those seen in Texas when a greater number of clinics ceased operations.

 “Dual Earner Migration Patterns: The Role of Locational Compatibility within Households”

In this paper, I analyze how locational compatibility of married couples’ occupations affect their household migration decisions. I find that if spouses’ careers are concentrated in similar locations or if spouses have similar preferred locations, they are more likely to both earn more and move more. I then build a structural model in which households decide whether to move as a function of occupation- location match and individual location preference shocks. I estimate the model using full information maximum likelihood with data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979, with separate estimation for households with married couples and for households with individuals. Using this model, I show that migration costs vary across occupation groups, with those in occupations that are more locationally disperse having lower migration costs. I then use the parameters estimates from model to show that differences in migration rates across household types is strongly associated with mismatch in locational preferences across couples by testing a counterfactual in which I match individuals to a spouse in their same occupation. Finally, I estimate the effects of a relocation incentive policy on migration rates and demonstrate that models which ignore family ties will overestimate the effects of such a policy.

“Concentrating on His Careers or Hers?: Descriptive Evidence on Occupational Agglomeration and Spousal Matching”

Using IPUMS Decennial Census Data, I explore the role that joint geographic constraints play in dual-earner household migration decisions. I use a simple theoretical model to demonstrate how anticipation of a joint-location decision predicts that the spouse with lower expected earnings should select out of locationally-concentrated occupations. I then develop a novel method of measuring spouses’ joint geographic constraints based on a pairwise occupational co-agglomeration index. I use this measure, as well as a measure of agglomeration and a measure of average returns by occupation and location, to show that joint geographic constraints associated with occupation have a stronger association with earnings for the secondary earner in the household, regardless of gender. These effects are stronger for occupations with high costs of re-skilling (e.g., occupations that require a college degree).

In Progress

“Monopsony in the Market for Teachers”

“Explaining the Retreat from Marriage: Male Economic Prospects and Cultural Change”

“Measuring the Effects of Role Models on Major Choice by Gender”, with Arpita Patnaik, Gwyn Pauley, and Matthew Wiswall

Policy Pieces/ White Papers

Sex, Contraception or Abortion: Explaining Class Gaps in Unintended Childbearing, The Brookings Institution, February 2015

Media Mentions:  Vox; The Atlantic; Business Insider; Washington PostWashington Examiner; Think Progress; Jezebel; Family Studies

Improving Children’s Life Chances through Better Family Planning, The Brookings Institution, January 23, 2015

The Character Factor: Measures and Impacts of Drive and Prudence, The Brookings Institution, October 22, 2014

The Impact of Unintended Childbearing on Future Generations, The Brookings Institution, September 12, 2014

Cited in New York Times piece ‘Beyond Marriage’, Sept 14, 2014; 

Reducing Unintended Pregnancies for Low-Income Women, The Hamilton Project, June 19, 2014