Research

Working papers:

"Sorting into Neighborhoods: The Role of Minimum Lot Sizes" [Job Market Paper]

Abstract: This paper examines how land use regulations induce households to sort by income into differently regulated neighborhoods using the example of minimum lot sizes. By imposing a floor on housing consumption, high minimum lot sizes play a role in limiting access to neighborhoods that may have more amenities. First, I quantify the effect of minimum lot size regulations on neighborhood composition using a boundary discontinuity design. I find that at boundaries with the average level of regulation, average household income increases by 4.5% for a decrease in the density by one dwelling unit per acre. This is a considerable effect compared to the sorting induced by boundaries with sharp changes in public goods provision. Next, I develop a neighborhood choice model in which minimum lot sizes affect the trade-off between neighborhood amenities and consumption. I use the model to study the effects of relaxing minimum lot size restrictions on sorting and welfare. Average neighborhood income is 30% lower in a high-amenity neighborhood with relaxed minimum lot size. I find that households with at least the area’s median income benefit from this policy. The price of vacant land that is regulated in different ways depends on the degree to which the regulation imposes a constraint on demand given the available quantity of land.


"Rural Physician Shortages and Policy Intervention", with Dennis B. McWeeny

Abstract: Although 14.5 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas, only 10.4 percent of primary care physicians (PCPs) practice medicine in rural areas. Populations in areas with PCP shortages have measurably worse health outcomes, including higher rates of preventable hospitalizations and higher mortalities from preventable chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. This problem has persisted for decades despite the introduction of numerous government programs that attempt to combat physician shortages. In this paper, we analyze the effects of government incentive programs intended to eliminate physician shortages. Using a differences-in-differences approach, we estimate that student loan forgiveness programs lead to an increase of three physicians on average per rural county. We then estimate a model of physician location decisions and use it to simulate the effects of incentive programs intended to eliminate physician shortages. We find that physicians are relatively unresponsive to differences in salaries across locations and strongly prefer to practice medicine close to their home state. These results imply that current physician incentive payments are too small to have a meaningful impact on shortages. We suggest that policymakers who wish to address physician shortages either implement a nationwide revenue-neutral policy or focus on recruiting more physicians who were raised in shortage areas to stay and practice medicine there.


"The Effect of Learning the Language on Labor Market Outcomes - Introduction of Integration Courses in Germany" [Draft available on request]

Abstract: This paper studies the effects of local language skills on labor market outcomes of immigrants by analyzing the introduction of so-called integration courses in Germany in 2004. An integration course consists of a 600 hour language class and a 60 hour cultural module. I use data from the German Socio Economic Panel (GSOEP) to estimate a fuzzy regression discontinuity model with two instruments. The program is mandatory for some immigrants but it is open to almost all others as well on a voluntary basis. This allows me to use two instruments, one that affects the entire group of immigrants and another that affects mostly the mandated group. For all immigrants, I find statistically significant and robust increases in monthly wage and in the probability of full time employment due to an improvement in language skills after the introduction of integration courses. I also find statistically significant increases of the order of 30% in the probability of full time and general employment for those immigrants arriving after 2004.

In progress:

"Bulk Purchases and Consumption Smoothing: Using Tax Policy Changes to Estimate Saving for the Future by Buying Ahead", with J. Michael Collins

"Pathways to a Bachelor's Degree: Evaluating Transfer Policies between Two-Year and Four-Year Colleges", with Suchitra Akmanchi

"Fecundity and the Evaluation of Infant and Child Health Programs in the US", with Jenna Nobles and Marianne Bitler