Eviction and poverty in American cities: evidence from Chicago and New York (with Rob CollinsonJohn Eric HumphriesNick MaderDavin 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.

The socio-economic consequences of housing assistance     [draft]

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.

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

This paper studies how market design choices exacerbate or mitigate pre-existing inequalities when market participants differ in their options outside of the centralized system. We introduce inequality in outside options in a canonical model of centralized school choice, and show that students always prefer switching from a strategy-proof mechanism to a manipulable mechanism if and only if they have an outside option. We then test the positive predictions of the model in a unique empirical setting where we can identify whether students have an outside option and where we observe applications under the Boston mechanism and a deferred acceptance mechanism. Consistent with our theoretical predictions, students with an outside option are more likely to list popular, highly-rated schools under the Boston mechanism, but this gap disappears after the switch to deferred acceptance. Manipulable mechanisms continue to be widely used in school settings. Our findings support a new equity-based argument in favor of strategy-proof approaches.