Job Market Paper

"Ban the Box" Policies and Criminal Recidivism, Revise and Resubmit at the Journal of Public Economics (2nd round)

Abstract: Despite their goal of increasing ex-offender employment and reducing recidivism, several recent studies of ``Ban the Box" (BTB) policies have cast doubt on BTB's efficacy at improving ex-offender employment outcomes. Evidence of BTB's effect on criminal recidivism, however, remains limited. Using administrative prison data, this paper examines the direct effect of BTB policies on rates of criminal recidivism. I find that, while BTB policies don't appear to reduce criminal recidivism in the aggregate, they may be exacerbating racial disparities. In particular, I show that being released into a labor market with a BTB policy is associated with higher rates of recidivism for black ex-offenders, with young black ex-offenders being particularly affected. In contrast, older white ex-offenders seem to benefit from the policies.

Academic Publications 

Voter Approved Annexations and Urban Growth Boundaries: The Impacts on Housing Values and Land Efficiency, with Dr. Rebecca Lewis, Robert Parker, Zhenpeng Zou, Winston Hovekamp, and Megan McGowen (June 2018). Growth and Change.

Abstract: Oregon is known for its strict Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) policies. While UGBs are designed to accommodate land supply for 20 years of growth, land within UGBs must be annexed into city limits before it can be developed at urban densities and serviced. In Oregon, cities use a variety of municipal annexation and voter-approved annexation policies (VAAPs), providing an opportunity to study how different annexation policies affect land and housing markets, and affect urban density. Previous research on annexation has not considered how annexation policy influences housing values. This paper examines how VAAPs impact land growth, housing development, and density at the city level. It also examines how VAAPs impact housing values. Based on city-level and tax-lot-level statistical analyses from 107 cities outside Portland Metro area, the results suggest that VAAPs negatively impact the availability of developable land within city limits. VAAPs also positively impact residential density and housing value. Lastly, VAAPs inequitably affect housing value between relatively high-value housing and relatively low-value housing, posing economic equity impacts for lower value housing. These findings provide important lessons for Oregon and other states. While VAAPs may increase residential density in cities, the policies may exacerbate affordability problems.

Working Papers

Abstract: Prosecutors in the United States wield immense discretionary power over the outcome of criminal cases. Despite this, there has been relatively little research concerning the effect that electoral cycles might have on their sentencing behavior. Conventional wisdom dictates that prosecutors will likely pursue harsher sentences on average, in an attempt to appear  "tough on crime". To test this, I construct a novel dataset of California prosecutors and electoral outcomes. Using criminal sentencing data, I then estimate the impact of electoral pressure, as measured by electoral proximity and competition, on criminal sentencing. I find that electoral pressure is associated with a decrease in the average severity of criminal sentences.

Works in Progress

Difference-in-Differences with Subsample Violations of Parallel Trends, with Antoine Deeb

Difference-in-Differences with Subsample Violations of Parallel Trends, with Antoine Deeb

The Effect of Local News on Criminal Sentencing