Job Market Paper

Abstract: Stable housing is often inaccessible to ex-offenders, because rents are unaffordable and landlords are unwilling to rent to ex-offenders. This is the first paper to estimate the effect of rental housing market conditions on the probability that released felons return to prison. I find that black ex-offenders who return to areas with relatively higher vacancy rates for affordable rental housing are significantly less likely commit recidivism. This finding is driven by the availability of rental-units in single-family homes, whose landlords are more likely to rent to ex- offenders. Changes in the share of affordable units in multi-family buildings – which are often managed by property management companies and are less likely to rent to ex-offenders – have a much smaller effect on recidivism. I conclude that access to affordable rental housing and increasing access to affordable housing may help lower recidivism.

Published manuscripts:

Abstract: This study is the first to examine the effects of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) on body weight, physical wellness, and exercise. Using data from the 1990 to 2012 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and a difference-in-difference approach, we find that the enforcement of MMLs is associated with a 2% to 6% decline in the probability of obesity. We find some evidence of age-specific heterogeneity in mechanisms. For older individuals, MML-induced increases in physical mobility may be a relatively important channel, while for younger individuals, a reduction in consumption of alcohol, a substitute for marijuana, appears more important. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that MMLs may be more likely to induce marijuana use for health-related reasons among older individuals, and cause substitution toward lower-calorie recreational ‘highs’ among younger individuals. Our estimates suggest that MMLs induce a $58 to $115 per-person annual reduction in obesity-related medical costs.

Manuscripts under review:

Abstract: I find evidence that the enactment of marijuana decriminalization laws decreased average reported earnings for young men by about 3%. The enactment of decriminalization laws changed the penalty for possessing small quantities of marijuana from an arrestable offense, where a conviction could result in incarceration, to a non-arrestable infraction without the possibility of incarceration. These deleterious effects are consistent with marijuana users, who likely have lower average earnings compared to the general population, being employed in the labor market, instead of being incarcerated.

Abstract: Research on U.S. enterprise zones (EZs) has generally failed to find evidence strong evidence of poverty reductions (Neumark and Simpson, 2015). An important exception is Ham, Swenson, Imrohoroğlu, and Song (2011, hereafter HSIS), who report substantial poverty reductions from state and federal EZs. We re-analyze their data and find that correcting for data problems and potential endogenous selection into EZ status, the evidence that EZs reduce poverty largely evaporates (except for one type of federal EZ). Thus, we confirm the more widely-prevailing view – that EZs have for the most part been ineffective at reducing urban poverty in the United States.

Manuscripts in progress

Young, Timothy. “Public Assistance Crowd Out of Non-profit Expenditures for Ex-offenders: The Effect on Criminal Recidivism.”

Young, Timothy. "Pay Secrecy and Worker Effort: Evidence from an Experiment"