Greetings! I am a labor economist and research associate at the Urban Institute's Center on Education Data and Policy. I hold a PhD in economics from the University of California Berkeley.

You can download my CV here

Primary Fields

Labor Economics

Applied Econometrics

Economics of Education

Email

TMonarrez@urban.org

Work in Progress

"The Effect of School Redistricting on Housing Markets" , 2021, joint with David Schonholzer.

Abstract: Public school quality, as proxied by average student test scores, is closely linked to real estate prices and residential sorting patterns. At the same time, school boards make changes to school attendance boundary maps often, which may have sizable impacts on housing market equilibrium. This study will leverage a national level panel dataset of attendance boundary maps and data on individual house prices to generate event study-based estimates of the average effect of school redistricting on housing markets. We will document the impact of different types of redistricting: (1) changes that move homes from low to high test score schools (and vice versa), and (2) changes that lead to greater (lower) interaction with historically underserved groups. We will also present estimates of the mean impact of redistricting on community demographics, based on the American Community Survey.

"The Efficacy of Universal Preschool in Washington DC", 2021, joint with Erica Greenberg. (Policy Report)

Abstract: We evaluate the efficacy of the District of Columbia’s large-scale 3-year-old PreK program. Average causal impacts of program participation are obtained by leveraging a centralized admissions lottery that randomly matches some children with seats in the program and places others on a waiting list. We will examine the impacts of 3-year-old PreK on key academic outcomes, using assessments administered by the study team via primary data collection. Analyses will also extend from kindergarten through third grade using outcomes available in administrative data. Short-term outcomes will be assessed using valid and reliable measures of children’s early language, literacy, math, social-emotional, and executive function skills, while longer-term outcomes will be measured using administrative data on persistence in public schools, in-seat attendance, in-grade retention, special education placement, and third-grade math and English language arts scores. A new measure of racial attitudes will join this battery to gauge impacts of a diverse PreK program on children’s racial bias. We will also measure impact variation by specified moderators and mediators and estimate the program’s cost and cost effectiveness.

Published Papers

"The Effect of Charter Schools on School Segregation" (PDF), 2020, joint with Brian Kisida and Matthew Chingos. Forthcoming, American Economic Journal: Economic Policy

Abstract: We examine the impact of the expansion of charter schools on racial segregation in public schools, defined using multiple measures of racial sorting and isolation. Our research design utilizes between-grade differences in charter expansion within school systems, and an instrumental variables approach leveraging charter school openings. Charter schools modestly increase school segregation for Black, Hispanic, Asian, and White students. On average, charters have caused a 6% decrease in the relative likelihood of Black and Hispanic students being exposed to schoolmates of other racial or ethnic groups. For metropolitan areas, our analysis reveals countervailing forces, as charters reduce segregation between districts.

Working Papers

"Dividing Lines: Racial Segregation Across Local Government Boundaries ", 2021, joint with David Schonholzer. (PDF) (Policy Report) (Data Visualization Tool)

Abstract: We describe the empirical relationship between local government boundary lines and residential segregation in the US. First, we study recent changes in the distribution of segregation within and between local governments in metropolitan areas, using census block data on residential demographics over the period1990-2020. We find that segregation across local government boundaries explains an important share of racial stratification patterns in metropolitan areas, which hasn’t changed over the last thirty years. Next, we use spatial regression discontinuity methods to study the effect of jurisdictional boundaries on segregation. We find that boundaries have important impacts, indicating that between-jurisdiction segregation patterns cannot be explained solely by proximity to amenities. Heterogeneity in jurisdictional discontinuities is substantial, with the largest estimates concentrated in the Midwest. We discuss implications for policy and future research, showing that both between-jurisdiction segregation and jurisdictional discontinuities can partly explain the correlation between total segregation and racial gaps in educational outcomes.

"School Attendance Boundaries and the Segregation of Schools in the US," 2021, (PDF), (VOX Coverage), (NYT coverage) Revise and resubmit, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Abstract: School segregation is determined by residential sorting, but also by policy choices such as the drawing of school boundaries and the choice of school site locations. This paper develops a new approach to understanding the importance of each of these factors by combining detailed census data with boundary maps for nearly 1,600 school districts accounting for more than half of national enrollment. I find that residential segregation explains more than 100 percent of school segregation. On net, school attendance boundaries create 5 percent more integration than a distance-minimizing baseline. School site choice plays almost no role. Local governments on average act to mitigate school segregation, although their impact is small compared to residential choice.

"The Effect of State Higher Education Finance on College Enrollment and Degree Awards by Race", 2021, Working Paper, (PDF).

Abstract: A large share of financing for public colleges comes from state governments, whose budgets are closely tied to state economic conditions, which means that public colleges often take the brunt of unexpected revenue shortfalls.To understand how state financial decisions affect public colleges, we use longitudinal data on college enrollment and degree awards to assess the impact of state spending on higher education for Black, Hispanic, Asian, and white students. This paper examines the two main types of state spending on higher education: state programs for financial aid and state appropriations for public colleges. For financial aid programs, we leverage changes in the aid portfolios of 15 states between 2003 and 2017 to identify whether increases in aid spending raise enrollment and degree awards and whether outcomes suffer when aid funding decreases. For state appropriations—which fund public colleges’ operation costs—we study the impact of the secular decrease in appropriations dollars around the country and draw comparisons across colleges with varying historical dependence on this type of state funding. We find that state spending for higher education leads to increases in college enrollment and degree awards, specially for students of color.


"The Impact of For-Profit College Chain Entry on Postsecondary Education Markets," 2018, Working Paper, (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 unemployment 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 effects concentrated in short-term certificate programs. Additionally, we find little indication of negative enrollment effects at traditional public and non-profit private institutions, including 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," Working Paper, 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 show 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.