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.

Click here for presentation slides


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.

Click Here for link to draft

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.

Click here for link to draft

Work in Progress

Racial Inequities Among World War II Veterans in Old Age 

(with Andreas Ferrara, Price Fishback, and Misty Heggeness) 

June 2021

We propose to study differences in retirement income and mortality for World War II veterans and non-veterans between whites, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, and asians using administrative data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) spanning the years 1995 to 2021. We merge these data to almost 7.5 million records from the Army and Army Air Force using the World War II Enlistment Records. This information allows us to observe around 25 million males in 1995 aged between 95 and 65 years old in order to study racial differences in retirement incomes and mortality in old age. Using the World War II Enlistment variables we are able to capture contextual economic information around time of enlistment, including branch of service, volunteer/draft status, as well as county and state of residence at time of enlistment. We will merge this data set to the complete1940 census where we are able to observe key contextual information at time of enlistment including birthplace, citizenship, marital status, number of children, education, income, employment status, occupation, and prior state/county of residence. Finally we merge this to IRS data on reported retirement income from 1099 Rs available from 1995-2021, which also contains state, city, and county of retirement residence.

Learning from My Environment: How social environment predicts teens beliefs about the future

July 2021

I investigate how a teen's social environment is related to their beliefs of future outcomes by merging the NLSY97 with census tract characteristics from the 2000 Decennial Census. Holding ability, family resources, and traumatic events constant, I find more exposure to risky outcomes like crime or young sex is positively correlated with belief of death, arrest, and early parenthood and negatively correlated with belief of bachelor's attainment. While more exposure to college education is positively correlated with belief of education attainment. Furthermore, holding the same controls and social environment constant, beliefs strongly predict teen’s later outcomes, suggesting beliefs role in decision making under uncertainty.

Click Here for link to draft

Click Here for link to Online Appendix

Effect of Exposure to Military Service Members in Belief of Military Service and Actual Military Service

March 2023

In this paper I examine the effect of changes in exposure to military service members  in local area through Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) rounds that occurred from 1988-1995. Using the geocoded NLSY97, I will focus on how changes in exposure not only effected enlistment rates, but also effected beliefs of likelihood of military service for teenage youth born in the early 1980s. This paper will provide further insight on the mechanisms for how exposure effects determine future outcomes, by examining whether it effects youths subjective beliefs and identity formation.

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.