Valentin Bolotnyy

Kleinheinz Fellow

Hoover Institution

Stanford University

I am an economist and Kleinheinz Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. I work on topics across public and labor economics, often forming research partnerships with government agencies to improve public services and gain insight into social behavior. I am also an Affiliated Scholar with the Deliberative Democracy Lab at Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL).

I received a PhD in Economics from Harvard University and a BA in Economics and International Relations from Stanford University.

Email: vbolotnyy@stanford.edu
Office: Herbert Hoover Memorial Building (HHMB) 107
434 Galvez Mall
Stanford, CA 94305


Adapting to Heat: Evidence from the Texas Criminal Justice System

Using administrative criminal records from Texas, we show how heat affects criminal defendants, police officers, prosecutors, and judges. We find that arrests increase by up to 15% on hot days, driven by increases in violent crime. We see no evidence that charging-day heat impacts prosecutorial decisions. However, largely working alone, judges dismiss fewer cases, issue longer prison sentences, and levy higher fines when ruling on hot days. Higher incomes, newer housing, more teamwork, and less accessible weapons may decrease these adverse effects of heat. Effects of future climate change are partially mitigated by adaptation, but uneven adaptation exacerbates inequality in the effects across locations.

How Does Childhood Environment Shape Political Participation? Evidence from Refugees

Where do the political behaviors and preferences of refugees come from? We compile a novel database of over 600,000 U.S. immigration records largely for refugees fleeing socialist dictatorships and link these records to national voter files. We show that an immigrant's origin country influences voting behavior and partisan preferences. Using a between-siblings design, we find that each additional year of time spent in the origin country is associated with an increased likelihood of voting in midterm (2.3%) and presidential elections (0.8%), as well as an increased likelihood of registering as a Republican in adulthood (2.2%). A Facebook survey of a comparable population reveals that immigrants who arrive in the U.S. at older ages look less like ideological partisans than people who arrive at younger ages. We propose four hypotheses for why more time in the origin country can manifest as increased civic engagement and conservatism once in the U.S.

The State of Mental Health in European Economics Departments

We study the mental health of graduate students and faculty at 14 Economics PhD programs in Europe. Using clinically validated surveys sent out in the fall of 2021, the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we find that 34.7% of graduate students experience moderate to severe symptoms of depression or anxiety and 17.3% report suicidal or self-harm ideation in a two-week period. A U.S. study done in 2017 across 8 top-ranked departments found the prevalence rates to be 24.8% and 11.3%, respectively. Only 19.2% of students with significant symptoms are in treatment, compared to 25.2% of students in the U.S. study. Among faculty, 15.8% experience moderate to severe depression or anxiety symptoms (31.4% among untenured, tenure-track faculty).

A Blueprint for Measuring and Improving Graduate Student Mental Health

We provide a step-by-step guide for developing, administering, evaluating, and acting on a survey-based study of graduate student mental health. Blueprint focuses on forging student-faculty collaboration and is based on Harvard University’s Graduate Student Mental Health Initiative (GSMHI). The survey tool we use includes validated screening instruments for depression, anxiety, imposter phenomenon, self-esteem, alcohol consumption, exercise and sleep habits, and loneliness. It also includes environmental questions that collect epidemiologic data, as well as ratings of advising relationships and student dynamics. After 6 years, GSMHI has analyzed data from 30 different PhD programs and 4,866 students, overseen the implementation of more than 60 departmental action plans, and performed 9 follow-up surveys to assess progress. It has achieved high response rates (60–90%), discovered wide variation in mental health and environmental factors across departments, and supported experiments with interventions. We hope this blueprint helps other universities run similar initiatives.

Immigrant Intergenerational Mobility: A Focus on Childhood Environment

Over 60% of immigrant parents in Sweden start off in the bottom quintile of the income distribution, yet only about 30% of their children are still in the bottom income quintile in adulthood. This progress notwithstanding, we show using administrative data that immigrant children who grow up in the 20th income percentile place three income ranks lower than native children of similarly low-income parents. This income gap cannot be explained by differences in parent education levels, family structure, or municipality of residence. The gap can, however, be explained by differences in immediate, 100 × 100 - meter neighborhoods. Immigrant children grow up in relatively denser neighborhoods with fewer native-born and high-earning neighbors. Data from Stockholm suggest that immigrant families sort into different neighborhoods than natives due to Sweden’s rental housing allocation mechanism that is based on waiting time rather than market rents.

Other Projects

Counting on Coronavirus Luck is Not a Fall Election Strategy. Best Bet is Vote by Mail.

Op-ed with Larry Diamond. May 4th, 2020. Vote by mail is not a partisan plot, it's critical infrastructure to assure a safe election in a pandemic. Now is the time to invest and prepare.

How Unpredictable Schedules Widen the Gender Pay Gap

With Natalia Emanuel. July 1st, 2022. The authors analyzed seven years of pay data for bus and train operators employed by the MBTA at union-negotiated rates and found that even among people in exactly the same role at the same seniority level, women still took home 11% less than men. They identified three factors driving this persistent earnings gap: unpredictable, unconventional, and uncontrollable schedules.

The Immigrant Doctors Project

The Immigrant Doctors Project is an effort by (former) Harvard and MIT Economics PhD students to highlight the areas of the United States that rely most heavily on immigrant doctors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

To Address Collegiate Mental Health, Start with Vaccine Mandates and In-Person Classes

Op-ed with Paul Barreira. August 5th, 2021. Changing culture around mental health will mean envisioning college as a space where academic excellence is closely intertwined with meaningful social relationships and thriving mental health.