Selected publications

2022: "Diabetes and young adults' labor supply: evidence from a novel instrumental variable strategy." Journal of Labor Research 1-23. Coauthor: Paolo Barbieri. Link to publisher's version. Link to preprint.

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.

___ Recipient of the IPUMS Award for Excellence in Research, 2021 Cycle, University of Minnesota's Institute for Social Research & Data Innovation.

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.

"Heterogeneous group contests with incomplete information" joint with Christian Vossler and Vasudha Chopra. Submitted. 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.

"Teaching Economics in Uncertain Times: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic." Joint with Beverly Mendoza. PDF

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the education system into finding creative and alternative ways of teaching. As learning and classroom dynamics change during times of uncertainty, instructors need to be equipped with multiple instructional strategies to shield the student learning process from unpredictable disruptions. Guided by learner-centered and experiential learning theories, we highlight two different learning models (Hyflex and flipped classroom) that can hedge instructors against uncertainty. While teaching in a post-pandemic world remains up for debate, a blended learning environment has become more acceptable. To this end, we offer several recommendations on scalable teaching practices based on the challenges that we faced during the pandemic.