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Welcome to my website. I am an economist trained at the University of California Berkeley. I will be beginning a position as Research Associate at the Urban Institute in Fall 2018. 

You can download my CV here

Primary Fields:
    Labor Economics
    Economics of Education
    Applied Econometrics

Email: 
    monarrez@econ.berkeley.edu



Research:

"Attendance Boundary Policy and the Segregation of Public Schools in the United States," 2018, (PDF), (VOX Coverage).
Abstract: School attendance boundaries (SABs) are the most common student assignment mechanism in U.S. public schools. I study how school districts set these policies, with the aim of characterizing district preferences for racially desegregated schools. I measure SAB desegregation policy using a novel database on SY 2013-14 SABs, defining a policy index relative to a minimum travel distance – "neighborhood schools" – counterfactual set of boundaries. I find wide heterogeneity in desegregation policy across districts, with the mean district doing little to draw boundaries that create racially integrated school systems. To explain this variation, I model the district’s SAB drawing problem as the maximization of a heterogeneous utility function defined over racial integration and aggregate daily travel distance to school, subject to a trade-off between these depending on local residential racial sorting patterns. I propose a simple algorithm to estimate the district-specific rate of transformation between travel distance and integration – the "price" of desegregation – conditional on residential sorting. I estimate that districts facing lower desegregation costs tend to enact significantly more integrative SABs, suggesting there is demand for school integration. After controlling for prices, I find that active court desegregation orders have a positive association with desegregation policy, while racial intolerance of local whites is negatively correlated with integration efforts. I conclude with an evaluation of the stability of desegregation policy with respect to endogenous residential sorting. Using the 2002 policy shock generated by the end of desegregation busing in Charlotte, I find (i) that white households have an 85% residential compliance rate with increases in SAB minority composition, and (ii) little evidence that policy-driven changes in the minority composition of SABs are disruptive to real estate markets.

"The Impact of For-Profit College Chain Entry on Postsecondary Education Markets," joint with Christopher Walters, 2018, (PDF).
Abstract: For-profit college chains (FPCs) have rapidly expanded into postsecondary education mar- kets over the last two decades, opening almost 1,000 campuses across the U.S. We first examine the determinants of FPC entry, finding that counties with worsening local unem- ployment and poverty rates are more likely to see the opening of an FPC campus. We then exploit variation in the timing of FPC entry to estimate the impact of FPC entry on enrollment and degree/certificate completions. Event study estimates show that FPC entry leads to increases in county-wide college enrollment and degree completions, with ef- fects concentrated in short-term certificate programs. Additionally, we find little indication of negative enrollment effects at traditional public and non-profit private institutions, in- cluding community colleges. We interpret these findings as indication that for-profit chain colleges tend to enter markets facing excess demand for higher education, and that the extent to which they directly compete with traditional colleges is limited at best.

"Closing the Immigrant-Native Higher Education Gap: The Effect of Tuition Equity Reform in Texas," 2016, (PDF). 
Abstract:
 This paper estimates the impact of tuition equity reform on the educational outcomes of undocumented immigrant high school students. This type of reform, granting in-state tuition to qualifying undocumented students, can be interpreted as a partial relaxation of the institutional constraints associated with lack of legal immigration status. Exploiting administrative data from education agencies in Texas, I employ a generalized differences- in-differences framework to produce within-school, across-cohort estimates of the impact of the ’Texas Dream Act’ on a range of educational outcomes from college demand to college-bound investments during high school. Estimates show a significant closing of the college demand gap between immigrant and control group high school graduates. However, estimates regarding college-bound investments contain mixed results. I attribute this to a complex policy environment in public high schools during the analysis period. Results suggest that affordable college access policies can have a significant impact on the attainment of the immigrant population at the college entrance stage, but that, given other policies in place, college tuition incentives down the educational ladder may not be sufficiently salient to generate spillover effects.