Research

Publications:

Did the Fiscal Stimulus Work for Universities? (with Caroline Hoxby, Jonathan Meer, Pablo Villanueva)
in How the Financial Crisis and Great Recession Affected Higher Education, Jeffrey Brown and Caroline Hoxby, eds. University of Chicago Press, 2014. 

We investigate how stimulus-motivated federal funding directed to universities affected their revenues, expenditures, employment, tuition, student aid, endowment spending, and receipt of state government appropriations. We also investigate how these funds affected the economies of the counties in which the institutions are located. To overcome the potential endogeneity of federal funds (for instance, federal student aid rising when students become poorer), we employ: (i) an instrument that applies nation-wide rates of increase in research funding by agency to universities whose initial dependence on these agencies differs; and (ii) an instrument that applies the change in the maximum Pell Grant to institutions with varying initial numbers of students eligible for the maximum grant. Our results suggest that federal funds induced private universities to increase research, reduce tuition, raise student aid, spend slightly more on many categories of expenditure, and slightly reduced endowment spending rates. These results are consistent with private universities maximizing objectives that require them to allocate funds over a broad array of activities. Our results suggest that public universities used federal funds as leverage to gain independence from state governments--gaining the ability to set tuition and other prices closer to market-based rates but losing state appropriations in the bargain. Overall, the stimulus apparently caused universities to increase their investments in research and human capital. We find no evidence that federal funds directed to universities propped up aggregate demand or generated local economic multipliers in the class Keynesian sense, but this is not surprising because only a small share of the federal funds "stuck where they hit."

Consumer Price Search and Platform Design in Internet Commerce (with Liran EinavJonathan Levin, Neel Sundaresan) 
American Economic Review, 108(7), July 2018, 1820-1859.

Online Appendix and Data and Programs (data set is available with AER subscription only)

The platform design -- the process that helps potential buyers on the internet navigate toward products they may purchase -- plays a critical role in reducing search frictions and determining market outcomes. We study a key trade-off associated with two important roles of efficient platform
design -- guiding consumers to their most desired product while also strengthening seller incentives to lower prices. We use simple theory to
illustrate this, and then combine detailed browsing data from eBay and an equilibrium model of consumer search and price competition to quantitatively assess this trade-off in the particular context of a change in eBay's marketplace design.

Working Papers:

Quantifying the Supply Response of Private Schools to Public Policies (with Troy Smith
Revise & Resubmit, American Economic Review

School policies that cause a large demand shift between public and private schooling may cause some private schools to enter or exit the market. We study how the policy effects differ under a fixed versus changing market structure in the context of a public school funding reform in New York City. We find evidence of a reduction in private schools in response to the reform. Using a model of demand for and supply of private schooling, we estimate that 24% of the reform's effect on school enrollments came from increased private school exit and reduced private school entry.

Work in Progress:

Productivity and Market Structure in Private Elementary and Secondary Schooling (with Troy Smith)

Occupational and Geographic Mobility: Evidence from 19th Century Immigrants to Boston and New York City