Greetings! I am a Senior Research Fellow at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. I hold a PhD in economics from the University of California Berkeley. 

You can download my CV here

Primary Fields

    Labor Economics

    Economics of Education

    Urban Economics

Published Papers

"School Attendance Boundaries and the Segregation of Schools in the US," 2023, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. Vol. 15(3):210-37. (Journal Link), (Working Paper), (Data), (VOX Coverage), (NYT coverage)

AbstractSchool 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.

"Dividing Lines: Racial Segregation Across Local Government Boundaries ", 2022, joint with David Schonholzer. Forthcoming, Journal of Economic Literature. (Journal Link) (Paper 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.

"The Effect of Charter Schools on School Segregation",  2022, joint with Brian Kisida and Matthew Chingos. 2022. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. Vol. 14(1): 1-42. (Journal Link) (Paper PDF

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

"The Effect of Student Loan Payment Burdens on Borrower Outcomes", 2023, joint with Lesley Turner. (Paper PDF)

Abstract:  Rising student loan debt and concerns over unaffordable payments provide a rationale for the broad class of “income driven repayment” (IDR) plans for federal student loans. These plans aim to protect borrowers from delinquency, default, and resulting financial consequences by linking payments to income and providing forgiveness after a set repayment period. We estimate the causal effect of IDR payment burdens on loan repayment and schooling outcomes for several cohorts of first-time IDR applicants using a regression discontinuity design. Federal student loan borrowers who are not required to make payments see short-run reductions in delinquency and default risk but these effects fade or reverse in the longer-run as some borrowers become disconnected from the student loan repayment system when not required to make payments. \emph{Keywords: student debt, inattention, income driven repayment.

"Shattered Metropolis: The Great Migration and The Fragmentation of Political Jurisdictions",  2023, joint with Jamie McCasland, David Schonholzer and Everett Stamm. (Paper PDF)

Abstract: Political jurisdictions such as municipalities and school districts determine access to high-quality public services. In many U.S. metropolitan areas the provision of these services is fragmented into dozens of jurisdictions. We use a shift-share migration instrument to study the effect of the Great Migration from 1940-1970 on jurisdictional fragmentation. A one standard-deviation increase in the urban Black share caused a 16\% increase in municipalities per capita and a 61\% increase in school districts per capita. Most municipalities that were incorporated in this era are almost entirely White. These jurisdictions used exclusionary zoning practices to create barriers for poor households.

"The Efficacy of Universal Preschool in Washington DC", since 2021, joint with Erica Greenberg and Breno Braga. (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 implement the Deferred Acceptance (DA) propensity score method of Abdulkadiroglu et al. (Econometrica, 2017) in a 2SLS framework to make efficient use of all random variation generated by the lottery. 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.

"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.

"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.

Work in Progress

"The Effect of School Redistricting on Housing Markets" , since 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 leverages a national level panel dataset of attendance boundary maps and data on individual house prices to generate new evidence on the effect of school redistricting. We first provide evidence on the extent and frequency of redistricting, documenting the equity implications of recent school boundary changes. Next, we present event study-based estimates of the average effect of school redistricting on housing markets. We 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.

"Inequality in Student Loan Repayment Outcomes by Race and Ethnicity" , since 2022, joint with Lesley Turner and Raj Darolia

"The Effect of the Great Recession on Federal Student Loan Borrowing and Repayment", since 2023, joint with Michel Grosz

"Fiscal, Demographic, and Academic Impacts of School District Secessions" , since 2021, joint with Barbara Biasi, Julien Lafortune, and David Schonholzer