I am an applied microeconomist whose work focuses on the effects of government policies on children and families in the short-run (fertility, infant health) and long-run (educational and labor-market outcomes) in both modern and historical settings.

Working Papers

Does Delivery of Primary Health Care Improve Birth Outcomes? Evidence from the Rollout of Community Health Centers

Increased access to health care leads to improvements in infant health

with Esra Kose and Maria Rosales-Rueda

Working Paper | Summary

Conditionally Accepted at Journal of Human Resources

> Click to view abstract

Introduced as part of the War on Poverty, Community Health Centers (CHCs) deliver primary care to underserved populations by locating sliding-scale clinics in economically disadvantaged areas. We investigate how this policy affected infant health using the rollout of CHCs and a flexible event study framework with Vital Statistics natality data. Our results show that average birth weight increased, and low birth weight incidence decreased after a CHC opened in the mother’s county of residence. These improvements in infant health can be explained by increased access to early prenatal care and reductions in maternal smoking.

The Effect of Increased Sentencing Severity on Fertility and Family Formation

Increased incarceration rates cause women to change their fertility

Revisions Requested at the Journal of Law & Economics

> Click to view abstract

Over the last several decades, the United States’ incarceration rate has steadily increased. By 2011, close to one percent of the adult population was experiencing some form of correctional supervision. Although incarcerated men are physically separated from their communities, their absence may still affect those who are left behind. Using the change in incarceration caused by a sentencing reform in North Carolina, together with an intensity of treatment research design, I show that incarceration policies have spillover effects on family formation patterns. In the wake of the policy change, unmarried, and young black women reduce or delay their fertility, and the composition of births shifted towards women of higher socioeconomic status. At the same time, I find that among those who gave birth, the quality of partner matches decline. The probability of marriage declines for white women, but I observe no effect for black women.

Birth Order in the Very Long-Run: Estimating Firstborn Premiums between 1850 and 1940

First-born brothers consistently end up in better occupations and are more likely to form families.

with Angela Cools, Jared Grooms, Krzysztof Karbownik, Joseph Price, and Anthony Wray

Working Paper | Under Review

> Click to view abstract

The nineteenth-century American family experienced tremendous demographic, economic, and institutional changes. By using birth order effects as a proxy for family environment, and linked census data on men born between 1835 and 1910, we study how the family’s role in human capital production evolved over this period. We find firstborn premiums for occupational outcomes, marriage, and fertility that are similar across census waves. Our results indicate that the returns to investments in the family environment were stable over a long period.

Tasks and Black-white Inequality over the Long Twentieth Century

Conditional on initial tasks, Black men transition to lower-paid tasks 10 years later than white men.

with Rowena Gray, Sarah Quincy, and Zachary Ward

Working Paper | Under Review

> Click to view abstract

The nineteenth-century American family experienced tremendous demographic, economic, and institutional changes. By using birth order effects as a proxy for family environment, and linked census data on men born between 1835 and 1910, we study how the family’s role in human capital production evolved over this period. We find firstborn premiums for occupational outcomes, marriage, and fertility that are similar across census waves. Our results indicate that the returns to investments in the family environment were stable over a long period.

Published Work

Old Immigrants, New Niches: Russian Jewish Agricultural Colonies and Native Workers in Southern New Jersey, 1880–1910

An influx of refugees leads native men to upgrade their occupations consistent with a complement framework.

with Sarah Quincy

Published | PDF

RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences (January 2018)

> Click to view abstract

We look at the effect of immigration shocks on native workers in a labor niche by testing how workers in the farm and nonfarm sectors were affected by the establishment of Russian Jewish agricultural colonies in southern New Jersey in the late nineteenth century. By following the same individuals across the 1880 and 1910 U.S. censuses, we avoid making assumptions about the substitutability of immigrants and native workers. Many native workers improved their occupational standing by transitioning to occupations complementary to agricultural and semiskilled factory work, the immigrants’ main niches. We see no impact on farmers, probably owing to the structure of agricultural markets. We also find a decreased probability of out-migration for natives living near an agricultural colony, with occupational upgrading concentrated among stayers.

Work in Progress

  • Birth order and compulsory schooling with Angela Cools, Krzysztof Karbownik, Joseph Price, and Anthony Wray
  • The Intergenerational Effects of Head Start on Infant Health with Esra Kose and Maria Rosales-Rueda
  • The Effect of Increased Sentencing Severity on Infant and Maternal Health and Mortality

Resting Papers