Research

My research aims to understand the institutions and economic behaviors that contribute to socioeconomic inequality. I do not work on a single topic. I aim for my research to have one commonality: careful data analysis, whether employing reduced-form or structural methods. By careful data analysis, I mean: understanding each feature of the data-generating process, producing summary statistics that motivate the economic question at hand, employing appropriate microeconomic tools for data analysis, understanding the economic fundamentals to which the data speak, and interpreting the results in terms of social policy evaluation and design. A list of links to my published and working papers is below.

tHE role OF RELIGION IN American LIFE

I am working to understand how religion shapes human capital, fertility, beliefs about race, and voting behavior in the United States. The first stage of this project was a data collection of the stock and openings of churches in the United States during the period 1900 to 2010. One of the outcomes of the data collection process is a map displaying the number of church openings (on the right). I will post updates on this project soon.

China’s One-Child Policy

This is a link to a paper condensing the material of a project that studies China's One-Child Policy. I provide a characterization of China’s One-Child Policy as a woman-level, age-specific pricing system. The system priced the permits allowing every woman and her partner to have more than one child. I construct a nationally representative sample of women containing fertility and abortion histories and match it to the policy’s pricing system. Using a difference-in-difference framework, I exploit within-woman variation to document that the number of daughters born per household was inelastic with respect to the price associated with the policy, while the number of sons was perfectly inelastic. The availability of ultrasound technology allowed sex-selective abortions and mediated the sex-specific response to the policy. Despite the inelastic response, the One-Child Policy still impacted aggregate fertility through large permit prices, as the figure to the right illustrates.

Contact me if you want to use the pricing system that I documented in your own project.

eARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

In a series of papers, my coauthors and I evaluate an influential early childhood education program known as ABC and CARE. In our main article, we propose a method to use non-experimental data and structural econometric methods to supplement and expand what can be learned from the treatment effects directly generated by a randomized controlled trial of the program. The figure to the right is one of the outcomes of the application of our methods. We forecast the life-cycle benefits of the program when only having data up to early adulthood. Our approach has testable implications and could be applied to the evaluation of any social program. Please see my CV for links to the other papers.

OTHER ONGOING PROJECTS

I will post more on other ongoing projects very soon.

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Church openings in the United States, 1900-2010

Total Fertility Rate in China, Realized and No-One-Child Policy Counterfactual

Net Present Value of the Costs and Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Education Program (ABC and CARE)

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