Research

Selected publications

2021: When in America, do as the Americans? The evolution of health behaviors and outcomes across immigrant cohorts. Economics and Human Biology. Volume 43, December 2021, 101063. Coauthor: Paolo Barbieri. Link to publisher's version. Link to preprint.

2020: “Free college? Assessing enrollment responses to the Tennessee Promise program.” Labour Economics. 66. Link to publisher's version. Link to preprint.

2019: "How does alcohol affect transitional adults' healthy dietary behaviors?" Economics and Human Biology. 35. Link to publisher's version. Link to preprint.


Selected working papers and works in progress

Public provision of higher education, and its implications for college diversity. Please click here to view and download the paper.

Abstract: This paper studies a large policy change in the US postsecondary education system to shed light on whether and how public provision of higher education makes colleges more ethnically diverse. Borrowing fundamental insights from biology and systems ecology, I first use institution-level data to construct three metrics of diversity, namely the share of underrepresented minorities in the student body, Simpson’s index, and Shannon’s index. These measures each reflect a disparate dimension of diversity, yet altogether yield a unified framework to understand the construct. I then leverage the staggered timing of statewide “free college” programs across states to document these programs’ impacts on college diversity. Employing different quasi-experimental methods, I show that free-college programs have not catalyzed an economically significant effect on the demographic composition of public colleges, although initial results do offer grounds for optimism. The paper’s findings complement recent work, which has documented the early success of promise programs in encouraging community college enrollment. To this end, I propose several mechanisms to rationalize the current results, and discuss several policy implications to improve practice.


"Diabetes and young adults' labor supply: evidence from a novel instrumental variable strategy" joint with Paolo Barbieri. Revise and Resubmit. Journal of Labor Research. Draft

Abstract: This paper explores the extent to which a negative health condition limits US young adults' participation in the labor market. We first rely on medical evidence to develop a new set of instruments for diabetes incorporating both socioeconomic and genetic information. Exploiting the variation in glycated hemoglobin HbA1c, a measure of plasma glucose concentration available in Wave IV of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), we then empirically document no statistically significant effects of diabetes on employment probability among the Add Health sample. Subgroup results also yield no discernible patterns, with only some weakly significant and negative effects for the male and Hispanic subgroups. For further robustness checks, we relax an important yet untestable assumption in standard IV estimations to credibly bound the main effects of interest. By and large, the implications of diabetes on young adults' labor supply are less pronounced than what previous research implies. Our findings complement what is known about other populations, and lend support to the protective effects of parenting and the family environment on children's early-life labor market outcomes. To the extent that previous research has documented the negative effects of diabetes on employment among older adults, we provide some broader policy lessons that can be drawn from our IV estimates.


"Heterogeneous group contests with incomplete information" joint with Christian Vossler and Vasudha Chopra. Under Review at Experimental Economics. Draft

Abstract: This study examines how behavior in inter-group contests is altered when players have incomplete information on their opponent. We model a Tullock contest where there are two possible types of groups that are heterogeneous in the incentives they face, and players only know the probability their opponent is a particular group type. In the theory and complementary experiment, we compare three sources of heterogeneity – differences in cost-of-effort, prize value, and group size. For the cost and value treatments, we find that incomplete information increases effort in uneven contests but has no effect on average in even contests. Group-level effort is higher in group size treatments, but incomplete information does not systematically alter effort. Overall, group-level effort is much higher than standard theory predicts. This evidence suggests that a model that considers not only self-interest, but in-group altruism (and possibly a non-monetary utility of winning) is needed to help organize experiment data. Moreover, cognitive limitations and free-riding may be important in explaining some of the effects of incomplete information.