Research

My research is in applied microeconomics. Most of my work is in the areas of labor market outcomes, family relationships and intergenerational transmission of resources, and education, often looking at the interactions between them.

PUBLICATIONS

Affirmative Action and University Fit: Evidence from Proposition 209,” with Peter Arcidiacano, Esteban Aucejo and V. Joseph Hotz. IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 3:7 (2014). (pdf) (journal link)

Proposition 209 banned the use of racial preferences in admissions at public colleges in California. We analyze unique data for all applicants and enrollees within the University of California (UC) system before and after Prop 209. After Prop 209, minority graduation rates increased by 4.35 percentage points. We present evidence that certain institutions are better at graduating more-prepared students while other institutions are better at graduating less-prepared students and that these matching effects are particularly important for the bottom tail of the qualification distribution. We find that Prop 209 led to a more efficient sorting of minority students, explaining 18% of the graduation rate increase in our preferred specification. Further, there appears to have been behavioral responses to Prop 209, by universities and/or students, that explain between 23% and 64% of the graduation rate increase.

A Simple Structural Model of NBA Offense, Sloan Sports Analytics Conference Papers & Proceedings, 2012. (pdf

I model NBA offensive possessions as a function of individual player “skills.” Players are defined as the combination of skills related to creating their own shots, passing to others, getting open to receive passes, drawing fouls, avoiding turnovers, shooting efficiency and offensive and defensive rebounding. Player abilities are allowed be different in transition and in half-court sets. One key element of the model is distinguishing between self-created and pass-created shots, motivating a need for pass receiving scorers to play with passers. Using play-by-play data, I estimate these abilities for 300 NBA players for the period covering the 2006-2007 through 2010-2011 seasons. The skill ratings that are produced by the model are independent of teammates’ abilities, meaning that counterfactual lineups can be simulated and player complementarities can be explored. As an illustration, I show results from a simulation between the 2011 Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. The model predicted a Mavericks victory, in large part due to superior complementarities in the Dallas lineup.

“Expectations and Voting in the NCAA polls: The Wisdom of Point Spread Markets,” with Rodney Paul and Andrew Weinbach. Journal of Sports Economics, 2007. (journal link)

A week-to-week voting model for college football using voting points from the ESPN/USA Today and Associated Press polls is specified. The point spread differential, the score differential of the most recent game minus the point spread, is shown to have a positive and highly significant effect on votes in both polls. A team that covers the point spread will receive an increase in votes in both polls. A team that wins but does not cover the point spread will lose votes. This result shows the role of expectations in this market. If a team performs better than expected, it will receive more votes in the polls and possibly move up in the rankings. Television coverage is also examined, and voter reaction to team performance is found to be greater for those games that are televised, which could be due to the television exposure itself or the fact that televised coverage is a proxy for important games.

 

WORKING PAPERS 

“Parental Influence on Labor Market Outcomes of Young Workers” (pdf)

I investigate the impact of parents' location and occupational attributes on their young adult children's labor market outcomes, particularly wages. I exploit the genealogical structure of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) to measure locations, occupations and wages of young adults and their parents. I find that college graduates who live near their parents have lower wages than those who do not, but that wages for high school graduates are not strongly correlated with proximity to parents. In order to determine the reasons for these patterns, I build and estimate a model of young adults' location and occupation decisions to account for potentially competing effects parents may have on their children's wages. Using the model, I find evidence that young adults have strong preferences for living near parents, a result which through compensating differentials can partially account for the tendency to earn lower wages when near parents. However, I estimate that young people across all levels of educational attainment place similar value on this proximity. I also find that living near parents may directly enhance productivity and/or occupation quality and lead to higher wages. In particular, I find that high school graduates whose fathers are in cognitive skill-intense occupations have higher wages within an occupation and also switch into more cognitive skill-intense occupations themselves if they live in the same labor market as their fathers, but that this effect is not present for college graduates. I also find a differential selection in the earnings potential of movers and differential impacts of the cost of occupational switching between high school and college graduates. These differences all substantially contribute to the differences in wage and location choice patterns between high school and college graduates.

 

“Wage Returns to Quality and Location of College – Evidence from PSID” (pdf)

I use newly available data from the PSID to evaluate the relationship between college characteristics and prime-life wages of college graduates. I present descriptive results for returns to college quality as well as estimates that adjust for individual ability using family-level controls. I find some evidence that returns to college quality have increased in recent years, but no evidence that returns change significantly for workers of different ages. I also show that returns to college quality appear to be concentrated within more selective colleges, with small or zero returns within the set of below average colleges. I also show that individuals who attend colleges further from home tend to have higher wages, net of college quality and migration decisions after graduation. Overall, the data suggests that returns to college characteristics are more complex than a return to one-dimensional quality measure that has often been studied in the literature.


“Fast Locations and Slowing Labor Market Mobility,” with Kyle Mangum. (pdf).

We show that the internal migration decline in the US since 1990 or before is almost entirely driven by mobile cities. That is to say, migration has fallen most in percentage as well as absolute terms in cities who had the highest rates of in- and out-migration. We tie this decline to two important features of mobile cities: high income dispersion, and relatively weak but increasing local ties of the population. Rising income dispersion creates a longer wage ladder that causes some residents of high-mobility cities to substitute within-market job search for job search between cities. At the same time, we show that younger birth cohorts in mobile cities have stronger local ties, as defined by being born in the same place as their parents, whereas immobile cities do not show this change. Both factors contribute to the pattern of migration decline seen in recent decades in mobile cities.

Teachers and Peers: Complementary Inputs to Achievement 
Production
,” with Esteban Aucejo, Jane Cooley Fruehwirth and Zachary Mozenter. (pdf)

This paper bridges the gap between the teacher effectiveness and peer effects literatures, by studying how the effectiveness of different teaching practices vary with the classroom composition. We combine random assignment of teachers to classrooms with rich measures of teaching practice, based on trained observers and student surveys. We find that students benefit more from peer average initial achievement when the teacher has good classroom behavior management practices. On the other hand, student-centered practices are most effective when there is low variance in initial achievement of classmates, but do not vary notably with average initial achievement. This has important implications for understanding teacher effectiveness and guiding teacher practice.

 

WORKS IN PROGRESS


“Family Ties and Worker Displacement,” with Pawel Krolikowski and Michael Zabek. Draft Available on Request.

“Experience-Weighted Learning in the Demand for Labor: Evidence from the NBA,” with Michael Dalton and Peter Landry. Preliminary Draft Available on Request.

“Adult Children’s Education and Parental Health in the PSID,” with Dustin Brown.