WORKING PAPERS

Eviction and poverty in American cities: evidence from Chicago and New York (with Rob Collinson, John Eric Humphries, Nick Mader, Davin Reed, and Daniel Tannenbaum) [this paper replaces "Does Eviction Cause Poverty? Evidence from Cook County, IL", new draft available soon] Revise and resubmit, Quarterly Journal of Economics

More than two million U.S. households have an eviction case filed against them each year, and local governments are increasingly pursuing policies to reduce the number of evictions. We study the consequences of eviction for tenants using newly linked administrative data from two major cities. We document that prior to housing court, tenants experience declines in earnings and employment and increases in financial distress and hospital visits. These pre-trends are more pronounced for tenants who are evicted, which poses a challenge for disentangling correlation and causation. To address this selection problem, we use an instrumental variables approach based on cases randomly assigned to judges of varying leniency. We find that receiving an eviction order increases housing instability---as measured by residential mobility, homeless shelter use, and interactions with homeless services---and reduces earnings, credit access, and durable goods consumption. Effects on housing and labor market outcomes are driven by impacts for female and Black tenants.

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Kreisman Initiative on Housing Law and Policy, the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Becker Friedman Institute, and the Tobin Center for Economic Policy. It is part of the "Using Linked Data to Advance Evidence-Based Policymaking" initiative, a collaboration between Chapin Hall and the Census Bureau. The project was referenced in the Economist and in the New York Times.

Centralized school choice with unequal outside options (with Mohammad Akbarpour, Adam Kapor, Chris Neilson, and Seth Zimmerman) [draft] Accepted, Journal of Public Economics

We study how market design choices exacerbate or mitigate pre-existing inequalities among participants. We introduce outside options in a well-known school choice model, and show that students always prefer manipulable over strategy-proof mechanisms if and only if they have an outside option. We test for the proposed relationship between outside options and manipulability in a setting where we can identify students' outside options and observe applications under two mechanisms. Consistent with theory, students with an outside option are more likely to list popular, highly-rated schools under the Boston mechanism, and this gap disappears after switching to a Deferred Acceptance mechanism.

Selection in surveys (with Deniz Dutz, Ingrid Huitfeldt, Santiago Lacouture, Magne Mogstad, and Alex Torgovitsky) [draft, VoxEU] Under review

We evaluate how nonresponse affects conclusions drawn from survey data and consider how researchers can reliably test and correct for nonresponse bias. To do so, we examine a survey on labor market conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic that used randomly assigned financial incentives to encourage participation. We link the survey data to administrative data sources, allowing us to observe a ground truth for participants and nonparticipants. We find evidence of large nonresponse bias, even after correcting for observable differences between participants and nonparticipants. We apply a range of existing methods that account for nonresponse bias due to unobserved differences, including worst-case bounds, bounds that incorporate monotonicity assumptions, and approaches based on parametric and nonparametric selection models. These methods produce bounds (or point estimates) that are either too wide to be useful or far from the ground truth. We show how these shortcomings can be addressed by modeling how nonparticipation can be both active (declining to participate) and passive (not seeing the survey invitation). The model makes use of variation from the randomly assigned financial incentives, as well as the timing of reminder emails. Applying the model to our data produces bounds (or point estimates) that are narrower and closer to the ground truth than the other methods.

The socio-economic consequences of housing assistance [draft] Revision in progress

This paper analyzes the effect of Europe’s largest public housing program on socio-economic outcomes for low-income households. Using lotteries for housing units in the Netherlands and data linking national registers to application choices, I show that the average move into public housing negatively affects labor market outcomes and proxies for neighborhood quality, and increases public assistance receipt. However, consistent with a model of labor supply responses to conditional in-kind transfers, average impacts miss substantial heterogeneity both across neighborhoods and, within neighborhood, across recipients. Moves into high-income neighborhoods generate positive effects, which are driven by ‘upward’ moves made by individuals previously living in low- or middle-income neighborhoods. Lateral and ‘downward’ moves have the opposite effect. To evaluate whether these results generalize to non-recipients, I develop a model of application behavior that utilizes panel data on application choices and exploits variation induced by the housing allocation mechanism. Using the model, I recover the distribution of heterogeneity that drives selection into and returns from lotteries, and estimate that selection on gains is limited. This suggests that targeting public housing in high-income neighborhoods based on observable characteristics can increase economic self-sufficiency.


WORK IN PROGRESS

The effects of eviction on children (with Rob Collinson, Deniz Dutz, John Eric Humphries, Nick Mader, and Daniel Tannenbaum)

Waiting time as a screening device: evidence from an affordable housing lottery (with Rob Collinson and Daniel Waldinger)

Screening, default, and eviction in the rental housing market (with John Eric Humphries, Scott Nelson and Daniel Waldinger)