Peer Reviewed Publications

  1. Moved to Opportunity: The Long-Run Effects of Public Housing Demolition on Children. American Economic Review. October 2018.

    Abstract (+)

    This paper provides new evidence on the effects of moving out of disadvantaged neighborhoods on the long-run outcomes of children. I study public housing demolitions in Chicago, which forced low-income households to relocate to less disadvantaged neighborhoods using housing vouchers. Specifically, I compare young adult outcomes of displaced children to their peers who lived in nearby public housing that was not demolished. Displaced children are more likely to be employed and earn more in young adulthood. I also find that displaced children have fewer violent crime arrests. Children displaced at young ages have lower high school dropout rates.

    Awards (+)
    • 2017 Dorothy S. Thomas Award by the Population Association of America
    • 2017 Dissertation Prize by the Human Capital and Economic Opportunity (HCEO) Global Working Group
    • 2015 Parker Prize by the Department of Economics at University of Michigan

    Press Coverage: New York Times, Marginal Revolution, The Atlantic: Citylab, The American Prospect, Slate, Mother Jones, Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, AEA Research Highlights

    Previous Version: 2016 Working Paper Draft (Longer)

  2. Housing Voucher Take-Up and Labor Market Impacts (with Josh Hyman and Max Kapustin) Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Winter 2019.

    Abstract (+)

    Low participation rates in government assistance programs are a major policy concern in the United States. This paper studies take‐up of Section 8 housing vouchers, a program in which take‐up rates are quite low among interested and eligible households. We link 18,109 households in Chicago that were offered vouchers through a lottery to administrative data and study how baseline employment, earnings, public assistance, arrests, residential location, and children's academic performance predict take‐up. Our analysis finds mixed evidence of whether the most disadvantaged or distressed households face the largest barriers to program participation. We also study the causal impact of peer behavior on take‐up by exploiting idiosyncratic variation in the timing of voucher offers. We find that the probability of lease‐up increases with the number of neighbors who recently received voucher offers. Finally, we explore the policy implications of increasing housing voucher take‐up by applying reweighting methods to existing causal impact estimates of voucher receipt. This analysis suggests that greater utilization of vouchers may lead to larger reductions in labor market activity. Differences in take‐up rates across settings may be important to consider when assessing the external validity of studies identifying the effects of public assistance programs.

  3. Advertising and Environmental Stewardship: Evidence from the BP Oil Spill (with Lint Barrage and Justine Hastings). Accepted at the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. Available as NBER Working Paper #19838.

    Abstract (+)

    This paper explores whether private markets can incentivize environmental stewardship. We examine the consumer response to the 2010 BP oil spill and test how BP's investment in the 2000-2008 "Beyond Petroleum" green advertising campaign affected this response. We find evidence consistent with consumer punishment: BP station margins and volumes declined by 2.9 cents per gallon and 4.2 percent, respectively, in the month after the spill. However, pre-spill advertising significantly dampened the price response, and may have reduced brand switching by BP stations. These results indicate that firms may have incentives to engage in green advertising without investments in environmental stewardship.

    Press Coverage: Harvard Business Review

Working Papers

  1. The Causal Impact of Removing Children from Abusive and Neglectful Homes (with Anthony Bald, Justine Hastings and Margarita Machelett). NBER Working Paper #25419.

    Abstract (+)

    This paper uses administrative data to measure causal impacts of removing children from families investigated for abuse or neglect. We use the removal tendency of quasi-experimentally assigned child protective service investigators as an instrument for whether authorities removed and placed children into foster care. Our main analysis estimates impacts on educational outcomes by gender and age at the time of an investigation. We find that removal significantly increases standardized test scores for young girls. There are no detectable impacts on the test scores of girls removed at older ages or boys of any age. For older children, we also find few significant impacts of removal on the likelihood of having a juvenile conviction, graduating from high school, enrolling in a postsecondary institution, or having a teenage birth. We investigate potential mechanisms driving heterogeneous impacts by gender and age. Our results do not appear to be driven by heterogeneous effects on foster care placement, school mobility and quality, or participation in special education programs. For girls, we find that removal significantly increases the likelihood of post-investigation criminal charges or incarceration for parents and caretakers who are the perpetrators of abuse or neglect.

  2. The Returns to Early-life Interventions for Very Low Birth Weight Children (with Samantha Gold and Justine Hastings). NBER Working Paper #25753.

    Abstract (+)

    We use comprehensive administrative data from Rhode Island to measure the impact of early-life interventions for low birth weight newborns on later-life outcomes. We use a regression discontinuity design based on the 1,500-gram threshold for Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) status. We show that threshold crossing causes more intense in-hospital care, in line with prior studies. Threshold crossing also causes a 0.34 standard deviation increase in test scores in elementary and middle school, a 17.1 percentage point increase in the probability of college enrollment, and a $66,997 decrease in social program expenditures by age 14. We explore potential mechanisms driving impacts.

    Press Coverage: Brookings: Hutchins Roundup

Work in Progress

  1. The Impact of Disadvantaged Peers: Evidence from Resettlement after Public Housing Demolition

  2. Pay Me Later: The Impact of a Simple Employer-based Savings Scheme (with Lasse Brune and Jason Kerwin)

  3. Peers and Motivation at Work: Evidence from a Firm Experiment in Malawi (with Lasse Brune and Jason Kerwin)

  4. The Impact of Paid Maternity Leave: Evidence from Temporary Disability Insurance in Rhode Island (with Zak Campbell and Justine Hastings)

  5. The Impact of Paid Sick Leave: Evidence from Temporary Disability Insurance in Rhode Island (with Zak Campbell and Justine Hastings)

  6. The Social Value of Targeting Interventions: Evidence from Reemployment Services (with Susan Athey, Zak Campbell, Justine Hastings and Preston White)

  7. How America Dodged the Draft: The Demographic Legacy of Vietnam (with Martha Bailey)