Research

Land Use Regulations and Wealth Inequality

Since the 1970s, U.S. municipalities have increasingly enacted restrictive “slow-growth” residential land use regulations, often intended to protect housing values by excluding low-income and/or minority residents. Because homes are the greatest component of household wealth for almost all homeowners, these regulations thus may have substantively widened wealth inequality, with particular implications for the Black-White wealth gap. My dissertation (in progress) will use matching techniques to estimate how these regulations moderate the effect of homeownership (relative to non-homeownership) on wealth accumulation, and, in doing so, contribute to these inequalities in wealth.

Origins of SES Gaps in Parental Investments

Another line of my research explores the causes of the large and widening education- and income-based gaps in parental investments of time and money in children. In a paper with Daniel Schneider and Orestes P. Hastings (data and code available here), we show that the increase in income inequality in the last 40 years led to wider class gaps in investments of money in children. We find that income inequality affects these class gaps mechanically, in that it leads high-income households to have more money to spend on children. But, we also find evidence that higher levels of income inequality steer high-SES parents towards investing a greater percentage of their earnings in their children as well. This paper was published in the American Sociological Review and received the 2018 Tobin Prize for Exemplary Work on Inequality and Decision Making.

I am currently working on two other papers on this topic. In the first, with Daniel Schneider, we create synthetic couples from the single-respondent time diaries in the American Time Use Survey in order to successively estimate the contributions of class gaps in family structure, class-based assortative mating, and specialization between partners towards class gaps in total parental childcare time. A working paper is available here. In the second, with Orestes P. Hastings, we investigate whether class gaps in parental investments in children widen during the summer as upper-class parents seek to prioritize the year-round “concerted cultivation” of cultural and human capital in their children.

Worker Power and Polarization in Job Quality

I am also interested in the effect of structural changes that reduce worker power–deunionization, financialization, globalization, decreases in the minimum wage, and economic recessions–on class-based polarization in job quality. I (along with Daniel Schneider) have investigated these connections using a novel measure of intra-year work hour volatility, which we create from the panel nature of the Current Population Survey. We find that low-wage and less-educated workers experience significantly more work hour volatility when unemployment rates rise, and that low-wage workers experience significantly less work hour volatility when covered by unions. This work, which is forthcoming in Social Forces, recently received the 2018 IPUMS USA Research Award for Best Graduate Student Paper (solo or first-authored). A working paper can be found here.

Work Trajectories After Release from Prison

Criminological theories suggest that post-prison job quality is an important factor in reducing future criminal justice contact, but this theory has largely gone untested. In a paper invited for submission to RSF: The Russell Sage Journal of the Social Sciences, I use six years of unemployment insurance data for all prisoners paroled in Michigan in 2003 to test whether those who find employment in industries that offer higher-quality employment experience less future criminal justice contact than those who find employment in industries that offer lower-quality employment. I find that parolees who find high-quality post-prison employment are less likely to recidivate than otherwise similar parolees who find post-prison employment in low-quality industries.

I have also used this data to explore the causes of different employment trajectories of young men after release from prison. Controlling for a rich set of observables, I find that black men in the sample are much less likely to find employment in relatively high-quality industries like construction and manufacturing. This work is forthcoming as a chapter in a broader book project, edited by David J. Harding, Jeffrey D. Morenoff, and Jessica J.B. Wyse.

Banking and Risk

Finally, I have published two articles related to banking and risk. My M.A. paper examined whether large U.S. commercial banks responded to pressures to engage in securities trading and to increase shareholder value by increasing the amount of leverage they faced. I found that increases in banks’ relative holdings of securities held for trading were associated with increases in bank leverage. This paper was recently published in Social Science Quarterly (data and code available here). During my time working as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, I also worked on a project with Martin Bodenstein and Luca Guerrieri that models the gains stemming from international cooperation in setting monetary policy, as compared to competition. This paper was also recently published at the Journal of Monetary Economics.