Working Papers

Invited Presentations: University of Rochester (Venator), Arizona State University (Venator), NASMES 2022, University of Pennsylvania (Venator), CSWEP CeMent Workshop (Venator), SOLE 2023 (Venator), Nebraksa Labor Summit (Anstreicher)

Abstract: Women in the United States frequently rely on childcare from extended family but can only do so if they live in the same location as them. This paper studies how child care costs, the location of extended family, and fertility events influence both the labor force attachment and labor mobility of women in the United States. We begin by empirically documenting strong patterns of women returning to their home locations in anticipation of fertility events, indicating that the desire for intergenerational time transfers is an important motivator of home migration. Moreover, women who reside in their parent's location experience a substantial long-run reduction in their child earnings penalty. Next, we build a dynamic model of labor force participation and migration to assess the incidence of counterfactual scenarios and childcare policies. We find that childcare subsidies increase lifetime earnings and labor mobility for women, with particularly strong effects for women who are ever single mothers and Blacks. Ignoring migration can understate the welfare benefits of these policies by a meaningful extent.

Invited Presentations: IRP Summer Conference (Thompson), NBER Summer Institute (Thompson)

Media Coverage: VoxEU, NBER Featured Working Paper

Abstract: Court ordered desegregation plans were implemented in hundreds of US school districts nationwide from the 1960s through the 1980s, and were arguably the most substantive national attempt to improve educational access for African American children in modern American history. Using large Census samples that are linked to Social Security records containing county of birth, we implement event studies that estimate the long run effects of exposure to desegregation orders on human capital and labor market outcomes. We find that African Americans who were relatively young when a desegregation order was implemented in their county of birth, and therefore had more exposure to integrated schools, experienced large improvements in adult human capital and labor market outcomes relative to Blacks who were older when a court order was locally implemented. There are no comparable changes in outcomes among whites in counties undergoing an order, or among Blacks who were beyond school ages when a local order was implemented. These effects are strongly concentrated in the South, with largely null findings in other regions. Our data and methodology provide the most comprehensive national assessment to date on the impacts of court ordered desegregation, and strongly indicate that these policies were in fact highly effective at improving the long run socioeconomic outcomes of many Black students. 

Invited Presentations: AEFP 2022 (Miller), APPAM (Miller)

Awards: Juli Plant Grainger Summer Fellowship

Abstract: Graduating into a recession is associated with losses in wages, but less is known about how these effects vary based on where an individual graduated from. We study how college quality influences the effects of graduating into an economic downturn in the context of the Great Recession. Using restricted-use data from the National Survey of College Graduates, we find that graduation into worse economic conditions is associated with earnings losses that are concentrated among graduates from relative high-quality colleges, with reductions in labor mobility and substitution from working in the labor force to enrolling in graduate school being potential mechanisms. We discuss what implications these findings have for the Great Recession's impact on income mobility among the cohorts who graduated into it.


Invited Presentations: EMCON 2019, SOLE 2020 World Conference, SEHO 2020, ASSA 2021 Meetings, Minneapolis Fed Junior Scholars Conference, "Labor, Firms and Macro" Workshop

Awards: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Culbertson Award for Best Field Paper, Juli Plant Grainger Summer Research Fellowship

Abstract: This paper extends a canonical model of intergenerational human capital investment to a geographic context in order to study the role of migration in determining optimal human capital accumulation and income mobility in the United States. The main result is that migration is considerably influential in shaping the high rates of economic mobility observed among children from low-wage areas, with human capital investment behavioral responses being important to consider. Equalizing school quality across locations does more to reduce interstate inequality in income mobility than equalizing skill prices, and policies that attempt to decrease human capital flight from low-wage areas via cash transfers are unlikely to be cost-effective.

Invited Presentations: H2D2 2020 (poster), ASHECON 2020

Abstract: This paper leverages the expansion of the United States' Community Health Center program over the 21st century to investigate whether improved access to health care reduces disability insurance participation at the county level. I find that the introduction of a health center that specializes in mental health and substance abuse services is associated with a 0.09 to 0.40 percentage point reduction in working-age disability insurance enrollment in rural counties. A cost-benefit analysis indicates that the money saved from reduced program participation can account for more than a third of the cost the federal government faces in funding well-targeted health care access initiatives.

Selected Works in Progress

"Family Resources and Human Capital in Economic Downturns" [supplemental report on ACS-Census linkages]

Dormant Papers

Abstract: This paper studies how exposure to recessions as a young adult impacts long-term family formation in the context of the Great Recession. Using confidential linked survey data from U.S. Census, I document that exposure to a 1 pp larger unemployment shock in the Great Recession in one's early 20s is associated with a 0.8 pp decline in likelihood of marriage by their early 30s. These effects are not explained by substitution toward cohabitation with unmarried partners, are concentrated among whites, and are notably absent for individuals from high-income families. The estimated effects on fertility are also negative but imprecisely estimated. A back-of-the-envelope exercise suggests that these reductions in family formation may have increased the long-run impact of the Recession on consumption relative to its impact on individual earnings by a considerable extent.