Research Statement


Beggar Thy Neighbor, Beggar Thy Neighborhood, forthcoming at Papers in Regional Science Neighborhood effects and the economies of housing consumption are, independently, thoroughly researched topics in the urban economics literature. Little has been said, however, about the effects of housing consumption restrictions on the dispersal of neighborhood effects to different economic groups. At a time of rising public concern about economic inequality, properly understanding the link between housing market restrictions and neighborhood effects across the income spectrum is of increasing importance. This paper proposes a model to better assess how labor productivity as influenced by neighborhood effects changes with restrictions in housing consumption. The results of the model show that except in the case where no labor complementarity exists between the high and low-skilled population segments, housing restrictions excluding the poor from the better-off neighborhoods will lead to welfare losses for both populations.

Working Papers & Manuscripts Under Consideration

Rent Control and Evictions: Evidence from San Francisco Forty years on, cities with tenancy rent control are still facing pervasive housing shortages and sky-high rents. Rent control has many negative housing externalities, but how well does it actually deliver its purported benefits to tenants? In this paper, controlled landlords' incentive to perform economic evictions is empirically demonstrated for the first time. This is demonstrated by means of an identification strategy that proxies for rent increases by exploiting natural variation in the distribution of a transit amenity from a privately-provided commuter shuttle system. Endogeneity in the location of the transit amenity is instrumented for by using exogenous constraints on where the technology companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Electronic Arts) were allowed to place their shuttle stops. First, the hedonic value of the transit amenity is found, and then economic evictions are tested for after buildings and neighborhoods were exposed to the rent increase. The analysis finds that in addition to tactically evicting individual tenants to achieve higher base rents, landlords will sometimes evict all the tenants and remove the building from the controlled housing market altogether even when rents are rising. If all controlled landlords were to experience an approximately 6.4% uniform increase on vacant unit rents, there would be an additional 6,732 single unit evictions and 80 additional whole-building evictions per year. This represents increased short-term turnover in roughly 20% of all controlled units and a long-term decline in the controlled housing stock of 0.2% per year. Thus, in addition to the housing market distortions detailed by other authors, rent control does not deliver the full expected benefit to a substantial fraction of its intended beneficiaries. The Grandparenthood Effect: Labor Force Attachment Responses and Trends Among Older Workers As workforces age and life expectancy grows, understanding what motivates workers to strengthen or weaken their labor force attachment is a matter of growing policy concern. This paper asks how grandparents change their labor force attachment when grandchildren arrive by first using a multigenerational sample from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to study individual-level responses, and then use Current Population Survey (CPS) data to study how grandparenthood trends change labor force participation rate of older male workers. Grandchildren's impact on age of retirement, hours worked, whether the grandfather is in the labor force, or the grandmother reports non-zero annual hours worked are estimated. Endogeneity between fertility timing and grandparent characteristics is instrumented for by exploiting exogenous state-by-year variation in access to reproductive technologies and alcohol purchases. I find that grandfathers work 363 fewer hours with each additional grandchild and become 19% more likely to retire, while grandmothers are 8.5% more likely to be retired and 13% less likely to report working any hours in the previous year. This paper shows evidence that the arrival of grandchildren does change grandparents' labor supply, but that trends in grandparenthood have only had a muted impact on trends in older men's labor force participation (LFP) rate. The response to grandchildren in these results is specification-sensitive, but interactions between grandchildren measures and Social Security benefits and eligibility are robust, indicating that a 1 point increase in the fraction grandparent decreases the LFP rate by 0.32 points at full retirement, and by 0.29 points at early retirement. Collectively, across alternative fertility and grandchildren histories trends in the simulated LFP rates do not meaningfully change from trends in the observed LFP rate, although the levels of participation would have been significantly higher in the 65-69 age group between 1962-1975 if the Baby Boom had not occurred.

Social Capital and Labor Market Networks, with Judy Hellerstein, Mark Kutzbach, and David Neumark, NBER Working Paper #23959, October 2017, submitted.

We explore the links between social capital and labor market networks at the neighborhood level. We harness rich data taken from multiple sources, including matched employer-employee data with which we measure the strength of labor market networks, data on behavior such as voting patterns that have previously been tied to social capital, and new data – not previously used in the study of social capital – on the number and location of non-profits at the neighborhood level. We use a machine learning algorithm to identify potential social capital measures that best predict neighborhood-level variation in labor market networks. We find evidence suggesting that smaller and less centralized schools, and schools with fewer poor students, foster social capital that builds labor market networks, as does a larger Republican vote share. The presence of establishments in a number of non-profit oriented industries are identified as predictive of strong labor market networks, likely because they either provide public goods or facilitate social contacts. These industries include, for example, churches and other religious institutions, schools, country clubs, and amateur or recreational sports teams or clubs.

U.S. Job Flows and the China Shock , with Sanjana Goswami, David Neumark, and Antonio Rodriguez-Lopez, NBER Working Paper #24080, November 2017, submitted.

International trade exposure affects job creation and destruction along the intensive margin (job flows due to expansions and contractions of firms' employment) as well as along the extensive margin (job flows due to births and deaths of firms). This paper uses 1992-2011 employment data from the {universe} of U.S. establishments to construct job flows at both the industry and commuting-zone levels, and then estimates the impact of the `China shock' on each job-flow type. The China shock is accounted for by either the increase in Chinese import penetration in the U.S., or by the U.S. policy change that granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status to China. We find that the China shock affects U.S. employment mainly through deaths of establishments. At the commuting-zone level, we find evidence of large job reallocation from the Chinese-competition exposed sector to the nonexposed sector, and establish that the gross employment effects of the China shock are fundamentally different from those of a more general adverse shock affecting the U.S. demand for domestic labor.

"The Long-Run Effects of Anti-Poverty Policies on Disadvantaged Neighborhoods", with David Neumark, and Brittany Bass.

We study the effects, over many decades, of minimum wages, living wages, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and welfare (and welfare reform) on disadvantaged neighborhoods. Using Census data, we identify tracts that are initially disadvantaged in terms of either a high share with low education, or a high share black. We then estimate the long-run effects of these alternative policies on key economic indicators of economic self-sufficiency – in particular poverty and the receipt of public assistance. Our identification strategy largely relies on state-level and federal-level policy variation that has differential impacts on more- vs. less-advantaged tracts within a state, which allows us to flexibly allow for state-specific shocks correlated with policy changes.
We fail to find evidence of beneficial long-run effects of minimum wages in disadvantaged areas. In the longer-run, employment effects are negative, and there is no evidence that higher minimum wages reduce poverty or lower the share of household on public assistance. In contrast, we find evidence of longer-run beneficial effects of a more generous EITC. There is some evidence that in the longer run the EITC increases employment and reduces poverty. And there is strong evidence that a higher EITC reduces the share of families on public assistance.

Works in Progress

"Unfortunate Sons: Conscription and Assortive Mating"

Abstract coming soon.

"An Analysis of the Quality of the Neighborhood Change Database's Weights"

The Neighborhood Change Database (NCDB) is a widely-utilized commercially available resource for researchers wanting to study longitudinal demographic and economic changes at the neighborhood (Census tract) level. The key value of the database are a series of proprietary weights generated by Geolytics Inc that allowed them to reexpress Census population counts in the latest Census geographies. As of this writing, the NCDB has the 1970-2000 Census years' data harmonized to 2010 tract geography. However, the proprietary nature of the reallocation weights means that no outside verification can be easily done of the quality of their process, in spite of evidence of data quality issues. In this paper, I innovate a method of using their data and publicly-available information to estimate their proprietary reallocation weights with a high degree of accuracy. I then use Census microdata to recalculate 1970 and 1980 population counts in 2010 tract geography using the estimated weights, and compare the results with what is in their commercially-available database.

"A Theory of Love and War: The Vietnam Draft, Assortive Mating, and crime in the 1980's and 1990's" with Nanneh Chehras, Ian Finn, and Jose Luis Luna Alpizar.

Abstract coming soon.