Research Papers

Land Market Frictions and Manufacturing in Developing Countries: The Small Bite Strategy, Job Market Paper

Best student paper (honorable mention) at the 14th Urban Economics Association Conference, 2019

Abstract: This paper examines how land market frictions can hinder the growth of manufacturing firms in developing economies. Land market frictions are the result of increased land fragmentation, poor land records, and restrictive land use policies. Using manufacturing census from India with unique land data, I document that in regions with smaller land parcel size, firms acquire many small parcels slowly over time, expand building with 4% lower probability, and are 22% smaller in size. I build a dynamic structural model that flexibly captures firm land adjustment costs which vary with the size of adjustment and region. I find that land frictions reduce lifetime producer profits by 6.5%. In some regions, firms pay 119% in additional land aggregation costs over and above the dollar value of land. My results are also consistent with the hypothesis that government-affiliated firms face lower land frictions. I find that private firms pay three times more for land aggregation than government-affiliated firms. I use the model to analyze the effects of a proposed government land-pooling policy on producer profits, firm growth, and land misallocation; and to quantify the expected losses to firms from the 2015 eminent domain restrictions.

Invited Presentations: 14th Meeting Urban Economics Association (Philadelphia Fed, 2019), Western Economics Association (San Francisco, 2019), Colorado College (2019), Midwest Economics Association (St. Louis, 2019 and Chicago, 2018).

Heller-Hurwicz Institute Article

Long Shadow of Racial Discrimination History: Evidence from Housing Covenants of Minneapolis, with William Speagle and Kevin Ehrman-Solberg

Abstract: Racial covenants were clauses in property deeds that prohibited the sale or renting of a property to specific religious and ethnic minorities. This paper studies the effect of racially-restrictive covenants, prevalent during the early-to-mid 20th century, on present-day socioeconomic outcomes such as house prices and racial segregation. Using a newly created geographic data on over 120,000 historical property deeds with information on racial covenant use from Hennepin County, Minnesota, we exploit the unanticipated 1948 Supreme Court ruling that made racially-restrictive covenants unenforceable. We employ a regression discontinuity around the ruling to document the causal and time-persistent effects of racial covenants on present-day socioeconomic geography of Minneapolis. In particular, we document that houses that were covenanted have on average 15% higher present-day house values compared to properties which were not covenanted. We also find a 1% increase in covenanted houses in a census blocks reduces black residents by 14% and reduces black home ownership by 19%.

Invited Presentations: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta – Georgia State University Real Estate Conference (2019), Minneapolis Federal Reserve (2019), APPAM Fall Conference (2019), 14th Meeting Urban Economics Association (by co-author, Philadelphia Fed, 2019), Western Economics Association (by co-author, San Francisco, 2019)

Mapping Prejudice Project

Rise of the Superstar: Technology and Changing Star Power in the U.S. Film Industry, with Thomas J. Holmes and Joel Waldfogel (draft coming soon)

Abstract: This paper studies the rising compensation to actors in the U.S. film industry since 1970 where the star salary as a share of revenue increased sixfold. We build a structural equilibrium model for the film industry that explains the superstar effect and salary trends in the industry over time. The superstar effect posits that being the best, even by a little, triggers huge wage advantages. Using detailed micro movie and actor data from websites such as IMDb and Google Trends, this paper non-parametrically estimates film input elasticities, actor ability, and film role quality over time. Using the model and the self-collected micro-data, we quantify the effects of increased market size, lower costs of production, and introduction of online platforms such as Netflix on star salaries and number of movies produced over time.

Work in Progress

School District Wage Structure and Teacher Mobility: Assessing Teacher Preferences from Inter-School Mobility in Minnesota, with Sergiy Golovin and Aaron Sojourner

Abstract: Teacher salaries are set at the school-district level. Thus, within a district, a teacher chooses a school largely based on non-monetary characteristics. This paper finds that effective teachers, over their careers, move away from schools with larger shares of students of color and poor students into wealthier schools with fewer minority children in Minnesota, U.S. For this project, we use confidential teacher mobility data from a school district in Minnesota. We build a structural dynamic school choice model with unobserved teacher ability to estimate teacher preferences for different school characteristics, focusing on non-pecuniary characteristics such as share of minority and poor students within a school. The novel aspect of this project is that we have rare micro administrative data on teacher’s first, second, and third school choices which helps us to better estimate teacher preference parameters. Using these parameters, we study the effect on teacher mobility across schools of a policy that would allow teacher salaries to vary within a school-district based on school characteristics.

Repeal of Land Ceiling Laws and Entry by Manufacturers in India

Abstract: This paper uses the repeal of Urban Land and Ceiling Regulation ACT (ULCRA) and difference-in-difference analysis to study the effect of land ceiling laws enacted in 1970s on entry and growth of manufacturers in India.