Research

Publications

"The Influence of Peer Institutions on Colleges’ Decisions: Evidence from Fall 2020 Reopening Plans"

With Emily Cook and Riley Acton (2022)

The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 195


"Teaching Nash Equilibrium with Python"

The Journal of Economic Education (Accepted 2022)

The code for the assignment described in this paper can be found here.

"Optimal Open-Locating Dominating Sets in Infinite Triangular Grids"

As "Allison Oldham", with Rex Kincaid and Gexin Yu (2015)

Discrete Applied Mathematics, Vol. 193


"An Experimental Study of Jury Voting Behavior"

As "Allison Oldham", with Charles Holt, Katri Sieberg, and Lisa Anderson (2015)

The Political Economy of Governance (Book Chapter)

Working Papers

"Aggregate Output and Pairwise-Stable Production Networks"

Under Review


​I study a model of production network formation and use this model to analyze the effect on aggregate output of a firm losing access to an input. I find that, contrary to economic intuition and alternative model results, when a supply line is removed, aggregate output may increase rather than decrease. I solve the model computationally and simulate it to characterize the types of networks that lead to this increase in output. I find that this is more likely when the re-formed production network is relatively interconnected and when the firm that loses access to its input has more alternatives to choose from. This paper identifies circumstances under which it is more likely that aggregate output increases rather than decreases in the face of a supply chain disruption. This can inform the methods used by researchers and help policy makers identify supply chain disruptions that represent opportunities for economic growth.



"Fortifying the Banks"

With Eric Young

Under Review


The 2008 financial crisis brought issues of financial stability to the forefront. In this paper we study the costs and efficiencies associated with government guarantees in a network model of banking so as to stabilize the financial network. We specify a minimal set of banks such that every bank has a neighbor - defined using directed edges - in the set. We call this set a fortification. The government is permitted to transfer resources only to those banks in the fortification, similar to historical rules governing deposit insurance. We find that networks that are highly connected but are not concentrated around a few popular lenders are the easiest to fortify with the greatest success. We also find that fortifications are more efficient than bailing out the banks considered too big to fail. Finally, we find a fortification of a historical financial network using data that describes interbank lending in the United States in 1867 and find results consistent with our simulations.


"Missing Financial Network Data"


Economists and policy makers use models of interbank lending networks to measure and predict the stability of the financial sector. But what little data exists describing this network is incomplete and outdated in the best circumstances. Using a computational model of interbank lending, I show that these data problems can lead to erroneous model outcomes and misguided policy choices. This paper analyzes three specific types of data inaccuracies: missing a link

(loan) in the network that is actually present, incorrectly including a link that is not actually present, and including a link between the wrong two banks. I find that erroneously including or not including a single loan in the network can lead to differences of an order of magnitude in the predicted number of unpaid loans and total dollars repaid. Missing a single link in this network can mean implementing policies that are designed to improve macroeconomic stability but could actually lead to substantial destabilization if models use inaccurate data.


"Do High Schools Choose Financial Education Policies Based on Their Peers?"

With Carly Urban

(IZA Working Paper)

Under Review


Financial Education courses required for high school graduation make a difference in students' future financial lives. Given that schools exercise local control, there are a variety of types of courses offered and required by US high schools. It remains unclear why and where this variation exists. Using a novel data set of unique high school personal finance course offerings and requirements paired with distances between high schools in the US, we approximate a network of nearby peer high schools. We use this network of peer schools to measure the potential influence of nearby schools on an individual high school's decision to offer financial education courses. We find that high schools are more likely to require or offer financial education courses similar to those of their peer schools. Having an additional peer that incorporates financial education into their curriculum makes it more likely a high school will change their curriculum to do the same. This is true across types of courses: required standalone courses, required courses that incorporate but do not solely focus on personal finance, and standalone electives. The results indicate that schools' nearby peers are related to what types of services to offer their students, and these networks are more predictive than economic or demographic characteristics of the school in determining personal finance course requirements. Local networks can potentially provide momentum in expanding access to financial education.

"Measuring the Velocity of Money"

With Carolina Mattsson and Frank Takes

The velocity of money is an important macroeconomic indicator that is conventionally measured indirectly and as an average for an economy as a whole. This measurement approach obscures heterogeneity in the underlying spending patterns. With the advent of large-scale micro-level transaction data comes the opportunity to measure the velocity of money at the level of individual spenders. In this paper we propose a new measurement methodology that accounts for currency creation and dissolution, which is commonly observed in payment systems yet not accounted for by conventional measurement approaches. For a given payment system’s transaction network, our method enables a systematic comparison of the velocity of money across different spatial, temporal, and demographic subgroups of spenders. Moreover, we can observe how events such as a pandemic or targeted currency operations affect the velocity of money across these subgroups. Using data from a community currency in a developing country, we find the following: (1) transaction volume comes from fast-moving money, while much of the balance at any particular point in time is slow-moving, (2) transaction rhythms differ between rural and urban areas, in particular, money moves faster in urban communities, and (3) there was rapid circulation as COVID-19 unfolded. The approach described in this paper may improve understanding of heterogeneity in macroeconomic patterns and inform policies that affect these patterns.

Works in Progress

"An Experimental Study of Equilibrium Network Formation"

With Lisa Anderson, Maggie Kayll (Undergraduate Research Assistant at William & Mary), and Henry Fisher (Undergraduate Research Assistant at St. Olaf College)

"A Guide to the U.S. Academic Economics Job Market for Teaching-Focused Jobs"

With Benjamin Harrell, Melanie Fox, Nakul Kumar, Dan Lee, and Gina Pieters