Job Market Paper
"Childcare and the New Part-Time: Gender Gaps in Long-Hour Professions"
"The gender wage gap in the United States is persistent and especially pronounced at the top of the distribution. Recent worker surveys suggests this gap is in part driven by a difference in average work hours, even between men and women employed full-time. This paper examines gender differences in work timing and elasticity using hourly data on worker activity for approximately 145,000 tech workers in order to understand what leads to this difference in the number of hours worked. I find both genders work outside the traditional work week, but men work more than women on nights and weekends – times when formal childcare is relatively scarce. In order to isolate the impact of childcare, I examine how work activity varies in response to unexpected winter weather public school closures. Women respond to these unexpected breaks in childcare by reducing work activity by 34%. Male work activity does not respond to these unexpected breaks. The results provide evidence for the emerging theory that the persistent wage gap between men and women in high-wage professions is a function of a long-hour wage premium and the allocation of within-household childcare to women."
"Fatalities and Government Transfers" with Ben Hansen and Caroline Weber
We estimate the effect of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit disbursement on drug-related fatal automobile collisions. Distributing SNAP benefits on days other than the first of the month, adding an additional income shock to the monthly calendar, increases the number of drug-related fatal automobile collisions by 1.21 percent. A one-percentage point increase in the share of SNAP benefits distributed on a day leads to a .2 percent increase in the number of drug-related fatal automobile collisions. Our estimation utilizes a dataset of variation in SNAP distribution dates across states, and switches in distribution date regimes within states over time to identify a causal relationship. We plan to extend our analysis in two ways. (1) Using our current identification strategy, we will estimate the effect of SNAP disbursement on drug-related mortality at large between 1990 and 2017 using National Vital Statistics System data. (2) We will employ an alternate identification strategy, the initial roll-out of SNAP, to verify our results.
"Retail Price Holidays: Theory and Evidence" with Ben Hansen, Keaton Miller, and Caroline Weber
Many retail industries feature price promotion holidays: periods close to calendar anchors when most firms simultaneously offer discounts, such as back-to-school sales in August or Black Friday sales after Thanksgiving. Models of sales by individual firms rely on supply side mechanisms, such as cost or inventory shocks, to explain discounting behavior. We analyze a price promotion holiday in the recreational marijuana industry and document facts that conflict with these traditional models. Despite an arguably exogenous increase in demand due to the proximity to a cultural event and constant marginal costs and inventories, firms choose to lower prices substantially. To explain these observations, we present a stylized model of price competition in which firms compete for customers with heterogeneous price sensitivities. An exogenous demand shock increases demand from both consumers types, and crucially increases the ratio of price-sensitive to price-insensitive consumers.
Works in Progress
"Covid-19 and Worker Productivity" with Ben Hanson, Grant McDermott, and Caroline Weber
We estimate the immediate and longer-term impact of Covid-19 stay-at-home orders on worker productivity. We use a novel dataset of tech worker code activity to proxy for productivity. We identify the impact using two strategies: (1) we compare activity in 2020 to activity on the same day of the year in 2019, (2) we utilize the geographic variation in stay-at-home order timing to compare productivity in areas with stay-at-home orders to those without. We examine the difference in these effects by gender and document the adaption of workers over time.
"Getting into the Weeds of Tax Invariance" with Ben Hansen, Keaton Miller, and Caroline Weber
This paper provides a general test of tax invariance. It shows that when a 25 percent gross receipts tax was eliminated on wholesale cannabis firms in Washington state and the retail cannabis excise tax was simultaneously increased from 25 to 37 percent -- a move intended to be revenue neutral -- tax invariance does not hold. Instead one-third of the tax is passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices. Wholesale and retail firms adjust their prices such that retail firms maintain a constant markup. As a result, wholesale profit on each gram of cannabis sold rises and retail profit on each gram falls. We show decisions about pass-through of these tax changes varies based on key characteristics of the firms and market in which they reside. The failure of tax invariance has wide-ranging implications for how tax systems are designed.
"Productivity Shocks and Spillovers: The network effects of natural disasters" with Grant McDermott
The network effects of natural disasters are not well understood. Most estimates of the effects of natural disasters assume perfect independence between regions, simply because identifying spatial spillovers and network effects requires detailed (and typically unobservable) data about the structure of those relationships. We shed light on these issues using a novel and precise measurement of productivity from the tech sector: individual contributions to software code on shared projects. These projects are typically supported by a number of (geographically-dispersed) collaborators. We are thus able to track productivity shocks to GitHub users located in regions directly affected by extreme events, as well as any spillover effects on their collaborators in other regions. The richness of the data allows to identify control groups of users who are neither directly affected nor collaborators with affected workers.
"Understanding Washington's Marijuana Traceability Data" with Ben Hansen, Keaton Miller, and Caroline Weber
The advent of "administrative data'' -- data collected by government authorities as part of a regulatory or related purpose -- has excited many empirical researchers due to the potential for high coverage and low measurement error. The reality is not as rosy: as these datasets are generally not designed with research uses in mind, they may contain inconsistencies, mistakes, or other issues that translate to non-classical measurement error when used in the context of standard estimation techniques. We report the methods used to process a novel, large-scale administrative dataset covering the universe of recreational marijuana sales in Washington state from July 2014 to July 2017. As these data are the only data publicly available to study key policy-relevant questions surrounding the legalization of recreational marijuana, many researchers have shown interest in them. We show our methods are necessary to obtain accurate measurements of choices and outcomes within the industry, even at an aggregate level.
These papers come from work completed before entering graduate school.
“Public Opinion about Management Strategies for a Low-Profile Species across Multiple Jurisdictions: Whitebark Pine in the Northern Rockies” with Eric D.Raile, Helen T. Naughton, Lena Wooldridge, Courtney Kellogg, Michael P. Wallner, and Elizabeth A. Shanahan, People and Nature. 2020.
As public land managers seek to adopt and implement conservation measures aimed at reversing or slowing the negative effects of climate change, they are looking to understand public opinion regarding different management strategies. This study explores drivers of attitudes toward different management strategies (i.e., no management, protection, and restoration) for a low-profile but keystone tree species, the whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis), in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Since the whitebark pine species has a range that traverses different federal land designations, we examine whether attitudes toward management strategies differ by jurisdiction (i.e., wilderness or federal lands more generally). We conducted a web and mail survey of residents from Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, with 1,617 valid responses and a response rate of 16%. We find that active management strategies have substantially higher levels of support than does no management, with relatively little differentiation across protection and restoration activities or across different land designations. We also find that values (political ideology) do not influence support for management strategies, but beliefs (about material vs. post-material environmental orientation, global climate change, and federal spending for public lands) and some measures of experience (e.g., knowledge of threats) do influence support for management activities. This study helps land managers understand that support for active management of the whitebark pine species is considerable and nonpartisan and that beliefs and experience with whitebark pine trees are important for support.
“How much are US households prepared to pay to manage and protect whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.)?” with Eric D.Raile, Elizabeth A. Shanahan, Helen T. Naughton, and Michael P. Wallner, Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research. 2018
The whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis Engelm.) tree species faces precipitously declining populations in many locations. It is a keystone species found primarily in high-elevation forests across the Western US. The species is an early responder to climate change and qualifies for endangered species protection. We use contingent valuation to estimate the public’s willingness to pay for management of the whitebark pine species. In contrast, previous work centres on valuing broader aspects of forest ecosystems or threats to multiple tree species. While only approximately half of the survey respondents have seen whitebark pine, the mean willingness to pay for whitebark pine management is $135 per household. When aggregated across all households from the three sampled states, willingness to pay totals $163 million. This information is valuable to forest managers who must make difficult decisions in times of resource constraints and climate change.
“Trade and Sustainability: The Impact of the International Tropical Timber Agreements on Exports,” with Helen T. Naughton, International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics. 2017.
Environmental sustainability standards are often portrayed as a hindrance to trade and growth. A set of novel international environmental agreements (IEAs), the International Tropical Timber Agreements (ITTAs), seeks to promote both. The ITTAs encourage international trade for member nations while requiring sustainable timber practices. This paper uses the ITTAs as a case study to examine whether IEAs can lead to environmental cooperation at the same time as increasing trade. Membership in both the 1983 and 1994 ITTAs is examined for an effect on timber exports. The analysis is conducted using panel data for 165 countries between 1970 and 2011 while controlling for year fixed effects, country fixed effects and country-specific trend terms. Estimated ITTA effects vary by ITTA year, timber category and country type. Logs exports fell for both tropical and non-tropical country members, but these decreases were offset by increases in other timber category exports. Tropical country members increased plywood exports, while non-tropical country ITTA members increased exports of sawn wood and veneer sheets. Total exports of targeted timber were unaffected in non-tropical member countries, while the 1983 ITTA increased total exports for tropical countries. These results together suggest that the sustainability clauses entailed in ITTAs have not decreased total timber exports from member countries, but have shifted exports across timber categories.
“International Environmental Agreement Effectiveness: A Review of Empirical Studies,” with Helen T. Naughton, Research Handbooks in Comparative Law and Economics, Chapter 18. 2016.
New international environmental agreements are signed and ratified each year. Much effort by policymakers goes into these agreements, yet the literature on their effectiveness is relatively sparse. Further empirical study evaluating environmental agreements is needed to determine their effectiveness. To facilitate future empirical work, a comprehensive search of literature was completed to compile and review existing empirical studies in the field. Many studies rely on simple trend analyses of environmental outcomes, but others use multiple regression analysis to evaluate observed effects of environmental agreements. One important observation from the study is that longer time frame of data facilitates identification of treaty impacts.