"Crime, Apprehension and Clearance Rates: Panel Data Evidence from Canadian Provinces" (with Philip A. Curry and Anindya Sen), Canadian Journal of Economics, 49(2), pp. 481-514 (Canadian Journal of Economics)

The Becker (1968) model of crime establishes the importance of the probability of apprehension as a key factor in a rational individual’s decision to commit a crime. In this respect, most empirical studies based on US data have relied on variation in the number of police officers to estimate the impact of the probability of apprehension or capture. We measure the probability of apprehension by clearance rates and study their effects on crime rates, employing a panel of Canadian provinces from 1986 to 2005. OLS, GMM, GLS and IV estimates yield statistically significant elasticities of clearance rates, ranging from −0.2 to −0.4 for violent crimes and from −0.5 to −0.6 for property crimes. These findings reflect the importance of police force crime-solving productivity.

"Using Invention Activities to Teach Econometrics" (with Douglas McKee) (Forthcoming in the Journal of Economics Teaching) (PDF) (Appendix)

An invention activity is a teaching technique that involves giving students a difficult substantive problem that cannot be readily solved with any methods they have already learned. The work of Dan Schwartz and colleagues (Schwartz & Bransford, 1998; Schwartz & Martin, 2004), suggests that such activities prepare students to learn the “expert's solution” better than starting directly with a lecture on that solution. In this paper we present six new invention activities appropriate for a college econometrics course. We describe how we introduce each activity, guide students as they work, and wrap up the activity with a short lecture.

Working Papers

"The Impact of Language Training on the Transfer of Pre-Immigration Skills and the Wages of Immigrants" (PDF)

In this paper, I estimate the impact of language courses on the wages of new immigrants. I develop a model of immigrants' investment in language skills which affect wages directly, but also increase the proportion of pre-immigration skills transferred into the host-country economy. I estimate the model, employing instrumental variables to address the endogeneity of language course participation. Attending language courses for six months leads to an average wage increase of 11.3 percent. The trans- fer of pre-immigration cognitive skills into the host-country economy accounts for 6.1 percentage points of this increase and the direct channel - for 5.2 percentage points.

"Understanding Traditional School Choice and Student Achievement: Evidence from the United States"

For any school choice policy to be successful, parents have to select schools based on characteristics that have a positive effect on the students' academic achievement. Therefore, understanding how parents select schools for their children in the absence of reforms is essential for implementing school choice policy changes. In this paper I examine the determinants of school choice and its effect on student outcomes. Using ECLS-K data I identify those parents who move in order to place their child at a specific school and parents whose children switch schools due to purely residential moves. Surprisingly, I find that those who move for academic reasons suffer a decline in their math performance while the purely residential movers do not. I estimate a random utility model of parental school choice and a test score production function to provide an explanation for the poor performance of school movers. School movers seem to select schools based on their socio-economic attributes while ignoring attributes important for test score production. Potentially, this results in worsened academic performance of their children.

Work in Progress

"The Gender Gap in Academic Performance: Evidence from Low- and High-Stakes Exams" (with Daria Bottan and Douglas McKee)

"Total Recall? Short- and Long-Term Retention of Statistics and Econometrics Skills" (with Douglas McKee)

"Effectiveness of Active Learning in Teaching Econometrics" (with Douglas McKee)

"Peer Effects with Dose Treatment: Evidence from Random Group Assignments in the Classroom" (with Douglas McKee)

"Developing a Concept Inventory for Econometrics: Applied Econometrics Skills Assessment (AESA)" (with Douglas McKee)

"Developing a Concept Inventory for Statistics: Economic Statistics Skills Assessment (ESSA)" (with Douglas McKee)

Standardized Assessments

Contact me ( or Doug McKee ( if you are interested in using any of these assessments in your courses.

Economic Statistics Skills Assessment (ESSA)

  • Serves as a post-test of student learning at the end of a Statistics for Economists courses
  • Serves as a pre-test of students' statistics skills at the start of Econometrics courses

Applied Econometrics Skills Assessment (AESA)

  • Serves as a post-test of student learning at the end of (applied) Econometrics courses
  • Serves as a pre-test of student skills at the start of courses which require Econometrics as a foundation (e. g., Industrial Organization, Labor Economics, etc.)