Research

*Papers with blue backgrounds are dissertation essays.

**Papers with gray backgrounds are finished or require only minor revisions.

Job Market Paper

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College Merit-Aid and Academic Renewal Thresholds: Evidence from Interactions of Discontinuous Rules

(Solo-Authored)

[Link to paper]

Won North American Regional Science Council 2020 Best Graduate Student Paper, Award Page: http://www.narsc.org/newsite/awards-prizes/narsc-student-competitions/

Merit-based financial aid programs are amongst the largest sources of financial aid for college, yet estimated effects may be biased by students sorting into treatment due to known academic cutoffs. This paper estimates how likely students are to meet minimum academic renewal requirements, in a state where sorting into treatment has been shown, by using an unmanipulated birthdate cutoff created by compulsory entry laws. Fuzzy regression discontinuity shows being born slightly after the Kindergarten cutoff, 13 years before the college program begins, leads to a 49.6 percentage point increase in scholarship receipt. Difference in discontinuity estimates, accounting for relative age and season of birth confounding, find students are 24 percentage points more likely to exceed GPA and completed credits renewal requirements. The results suggest GPA or credits thresholds are equally effective, advancing the literature on behavioral aspects of large merit-aid programs. The identification strategy may also generalize to other policy contexts where causal estimates are questionable.

Paper(s) Under Review

Submitted

Working Papers

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Unintentional Effects of Security Assistance on Violence: Evidence from Somali Piracy & Ocean Wind Speeds

(with Greg DeAngelo)

[Link]

Conflict harms institutions by increasing the cost of transactions and muddling investment incentives, yet institutions are crucial for economic growth. In this research we examine maritime piracy, as it presents one of the most prominent forms of violence in countries (e.g. Somalia) that face struggling institutions. To reduce the impact of piracy (particularly on global commerce), warships have been deployed to waters surrounding Somalia. An unintended consequence of these deterrence efforts is that they make nefarious land activities more attractive, threatening institutional development and safety. This paper examines how efforts to displace violent actors on the waterways impacts land conflict. To overcome endogeneity concerns we exploit variation from ocean wind speeds, which reduce piracy for reasons unassociated with dysfunctional institutions and foreign assistance, using an instrumental variables approach. We find one fewer pirate attack (1 st. dev. decrease) leads to at least 18\% more land violence and an additional 9.11 land conflict deaths, suggesting naval patrols harm Somalian institutions and safety. Results imply that saving shipping companies $5,537,390 costs 9.11 Somalian land fatalities.

Not So Fast: Alcohol Sales to College Football General Seating Reduces Crime

(Solo-Authored)

[Link]

Alcohol sales to general seating at college football games has been broadly adopted despite results suggesting greater alcohol availability increases crime and college alcohol abuse. Using differences-in-differences, this paper estimates how allowing alcohol sales in college football general seating sections affects crime. Reductions in crime are found after sales are allowed. After sales begin, those under the age of 21 are still not legally permitted to purchase in-stadium alcohol, but are still affected by changes in other stadium policies or law enforcement strategies. Using this group to address unobserved confounders suggests the causal effect of alcohol access is reduced crime on home game days. Results suggest substitution effects matter for the relationship between alcohol access and criminal behavior, identifying a new empirical nuance to be heeded when making alcohol policies.

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Hoggin' the Road: Pork Slaughterhouses Increase Heavy Truck Traffic, Reducing Road Quality

(with Margaret Bock and Alexandre Scarcioffolo)

Although businesses bring benefits, they can also bring negative externalities. One such negative externality that has received substantial attention is heavy truck traffic, which is associated with hydraulic fracturing and agriculture. However, estimates of slaughterhouses on truck traffic and truck traffic on road damage have not been based on a causal framework. This paper estimates the aforementioned relationships using variation from a historic reason for agglomeration combined with the intuition that the pork industry prefers lower transportation costs. Estimates suggest 1 pork slaughterhouse increases truck traffic by 28.7 percent and a 10 percent increase in truck traffic leads to a 2.5 percent increase in road roughness. The IV estimates are 10X larger than OLS, suggesting that higher taxes on slaughterhouse trucks may be needed to ensure socially optimal truck traffic in equilibrium.

Disamenity or a Signal of Competence? The Empirical Political Economy of Local Road Maintenance

(with Margaret Bock)

https://researchrepository.wvu.edu/econ_working-papers/48/

Political incentives affect infrastructure construction, but how incentives affect infrastructure upkeep, like road maintenance, is sparsely documented. Empirical results find different conclusions than theoretical evidence about perceptions of road maintenance. Political alignment, local election cycles, and difference-in-differences are leveraged to investigate if political incentives cause shifts in road maintenance. Robust results identify political distortions in invasive road maintenance timing. Local election cycles, which are widespread and frequent, shift road maintenance timing. Estimates are used to calculate financial costs of local elections on road maintenance. Conservative calculations suggest local elections cost U.S. cities at least $185.5 million from 1960--2020.

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Works In Progress

The Effects of Random Peers on Noncognitive Abilities: Evidence from the National Outdoor Leadership School

(with Scott Cunningham and Matthew Pearson)

Abstract: Employers value non-cognitive abilities as much as cognitive ones and non-cognitive abilities have significant bearing on education, labor market, health, and macroeconomic outcomes. This paper estimates how peers affect non-cognitive skill formation, including communication, leadership, and attitude. Students at the National Outdoor Leadership School are conditionally randomly assigned to groups, meaning they are randomly exposed to different levels of peer ability. Being assigned to peers with higher self-rated non-cognitive ability causes a reduction in self-rated communication and leadership, but not attitude. The largest results are from females rating themselves lower in communication and leadership. This work suggests strong peers are not an effective way to bolster non-cognitive ability for college-aged individuals

What Do College Students Drink with Merit-Based Aid?

Workplace Personnel Utilization and Earnings: Evidence From the NBA

(with Alexander Cardazzi)

Did Assassinating Osama Bin Laden Make Pakistanis Feel More or Less Safe? Evidence from New Lower Legislative Chamber Geospatial Data

(Solo-Authored)

Book Chapter(s)