I am an assistant professor of economics at the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, University of Chicago.
My research areas are empirical public finance and labor economics, with a focus on the effects of social insurance and public assistance programs and their interaction with labor markets.
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Office: Saieh Hall for Economics 347
Email: mdeshpande [at] uchicago.edu
Department of Economics
University of Chicago
1126 E. 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
Publications and Working Papers
"Disability and Distress: The Effect of Disability Programs on Financial Outcomes" (with Tal Gross and Yalun Su)
Abstract: We provide the first evidence on the relationship between disability programs and markers of financial distress: bankruptcy, foreclosure, eviction, and home sale. Rates of these adverse financial events peak around the time of disability application. Using variation induced by an age-based eligibility rule, we find that disability allowance reduces the likelihood of bankruptcy (0.77 percentage point or 31 percent), foreclosure (1.8 percentage point or 34 percent), and home sale (1.8 percentage point or 15 percent). We present evidence that these changes reflect true reductions in financial distress. Considering these extreme events increases the optimal disability benefit amount and suggests a shorter optimal waiting time.
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 11(4), November 2019, pp. 213-48
Abstract: We study the effect of application costs on the targeting of disability programs using the closings of Social Security Administration field offices, which provide assistance with filing disability applications. We find that field office closings lead to large and persistent reductions in the number of disability recipients and reduce targeting efficiency based on current eligibility standards. The number of disability recipients declines by 16% in surrounding areas, with the largest effects for applicants with moderately severe conditions and low education levels. Evidence on channels suggests that increased congestion at neighboring offices is more important than higher travel or information costs.
American Economic Review 106(11), November 2016, pp. 3300-3330
Winner of 2015 APPAM Dissertation Award, 2015 Upjohn Institute Dissertation Award, and 2016 NASI John Heinz Dissertation Award
Abstract: I estimate the effects of removing low-income youth with disabilities from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on their earnings and income in adulthood. Using a regression discontinuity design based on a 1996 policy change in age 18 medical reviews, I find that youth who are removed from SSI at age 18 recover one-third of the lost SSI cash income in earnings. SSI youth who are removed and stay off SSI earn on average $4,400 annually, and they lose $76,000 in present discounted observed income over the 16 years following removal relative to those who do not receive a review.
Review of Economics and Statistics 98(4), October 2016, pp. 638-654
Abstract: I estimate the effect of removing children with disabilities from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on parents earnings and household disability receipt. Using administrative data from the Social Security Administration, I implement regression discontinuity and difference-in-differences designs based on changes in the budget for child medical reviews. I find that parents fully offset the SSI loss with increased earnings, and the loss of the child's SSI payment reduces disability applications by parents and siblings. I model and test alternative hypotheses for the large parental earnings response and find suggestive evidence that the response is driven primarily by an income effect.
Research in Progress
"Beyond Health: Disability Programs as Consumption Insurance" (with Lee Lockwood)
"How Do Expectations about Government Benefits Affect Human Capital Investment?" (with Rebecca Dizon-Ross)
"The Effects and Channels of Early-Life Removal from Disability Insurance: Evidence from Supplemental Security Income Children"