Research

Job Market Paper

Is College Worth It For Me? Beliefs, Access to Funding and Inequality in Higher Education (Click for Draft)

In the US, the bachelor's attainment rate of White high-socioeconomic status youth is much higher than the bachelor's attainment rate of Hispanic, Black, and low-socioeconomic status youth. This is true even among students with high academic scores. For high-scorers, how much of these gaps in bachelor's attainment can be explained by differences in subjective beliefs about own academic ability? Relatedly, Is targeting information and funding to low socioeconomic status high-scorers more efficient at narrowing overall bachelor's attainment gaps than universal policies like free college for all, or a tracking system in the US? To answer these questions, I estimate the distribution of subjective prior beliefs about own ability using self reported beliefs about college outcomes from the NLSY97 and a dynamic discrete choice model with heterogeneous financial support and beliefs about ability. I find that for Black high-scorers beliefs play almost no statistically significant role in explaining gaps. However, for Hispanic and low socioeconomic status youth, differences in beliefs explain 38-49% of the gap relative to White high-socioeconomic status high-scorers. In the policy analysis I show that the targeted policy is the most efficient at closing gaps and that it closes overall gaps in bachelor's attainment by 25% to 42% depending on the comparison group. This suggests representation in higher education can be increased through recruiting low socioeconomic high scorers, but inequality will persist with differences in early childhood human capital stock and non pecuniary utility.

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Publications

The Racial/Ethnic Gap in Financial Literacy in the Population and by Income (with Luisa Blanco, Salvador Contreras, and Marcos Angrisani). Contemporary Economic Policy. September 2020.

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An Investigation of Toxicities and Survival in Hispanic Children and Adolescents with ALL: Results from ALL Consortium Protocol 05-001 (with Justine Kahn, Peter Cole, Traci Blonquist, et al). Pediatric Blood and Cancer. November 2017.

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Work in Progress

The Effect of Their Experiences During the Second World War on the Success of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans (with Andreas Ferrara, Price Fishback, and Misty Heggeness)

June 2021

World War II was one of the most dramatic shock that hit the American economy in the 20th century. During the war roughly 41 percent of Gross Domestic Product was devoted to the war efforts, 17 percent of the labor force went into the military, and another 23 percent or more were directly involved in building munitions and manufacturing goods to support directly the War effort. Our focus extends the focus on labor markets to examine the impact during the War and afterward on the economic welfare of African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans relative to the experience of native white Americans. We link individual information from the 1940 Census, the 1950 Census, and military records of inductions and enlistments into the war, to examine the impact of the War experience on changes in a variety of socioeconomic outcomes for each of the four ethnic groups between 1940 and 1950.



The Effect of Neighborhood Level Outcomes on Subjective Beliefs regarding School, Crime, Family Formation, and Labor Market Outcomes

July 2021


In this paper I examine the relationship that neighborhood level outcomes, including by race ethnicity have on reported subjective beliefs of adolescents within the same race and ethnic group in the NLSY97, while controlling for parental wealth, education, and measures of cognitive and non cognitive ability. I then look at outcomes and beliefs related to pregnancy, crime participation, college degree attainment, and labor market participation. After examining the relationship between neighborhood level outcomes and beliefs, I then examine the relationship between these beliefs and later life outcomes predicted by these beliefs to assess to what extent these outcomes and beliefs effect or reflect neighborhood level outcomes.



Determinants and Effects of Co-residing with Parents on Single Moms

(with Misty Heggeness)

July 2020

In this paper we examine the determinants for Co-residing with parents using the SHED and NLSY97. We then examine the relationship that co-residing with parents has on later life outcomes, including labor market participation, earnings, benefits, college attendance and completion in order to assess whether the option of co-residing with parents can be viewed as a form of labor market insurance or substitution for child care so that single mothers can invest in human capital, or consumption smooth.


Disentangling Learning, Tuition, and Nonpecuniary Utility in Education Outcomes: Education and Information Frictions in a Multi Armed Bandit Model

(September 2019)

In this paper I decompose the effect of beliefs, non pecuniary utility, and tuition realizations in the difference of college degree attainment between high aptitude individuals with no college educated parents and two college educated parents. I also quantify the effectiveness of free tuition, information campaigns, and combinations of the two, on increasing college attainment for high aptitude individuals with no college educated parents. I accomplish this by estimating beliefs and non pecuniary utility using a dynamic two sector multi armed bandit model, with a cognitive sector where college is necessary for entry, and a non cognitive sector where it is not, using the NLSY97. I find that almost one third of the degree attainment gap is due to beliefs, while almost two thirds is due to non pecuniary utility, leaving little room for tuition realizations. For policy I find some small positive effects of information campaigns, but I find stronger effects of free college, with the strongest effect from the combination of the free college and information.