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.
Office: Herbert Hoover Memorial Building (HHMB) 107
434 Galvez Mall
Stanford, CA 94305
Most U.S. government spending on highways and bridges is done through “scaling” procurement auctions, in which private construction firms submit unit price bids for each piece of material required to complete a project. Using data on bridge maintenance projects undertaken by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), we present evidence that firm bidding behavior in this context is consistent with optimal skewing under risk aversion: firms limit their risk exposure by placing lower unit bids on items with greater uncertainty. We estimate the amount of uncertainty in each auction, and the distribution of bidders’ private costs and risk aversion. Simulating equilibrium item-level bids under counterfactual settings, we estimate the fraction of project spending that is due to risk and evaluate auction mechanisms under consideration by policymakers. We find that scaling auctions provide substantial savings relative to lump sum auctions and show how our framework can be used to evaluate alternative auction designs.
We use data on Jewish refugees resettled in the United States between 1938 and 2005, along with survey data on Israeli citizens born in the Former Soviet Union, to demonstrate the persistent downstream political consequences of socialization under left-wing authoritarian regimes. Using a within-family research design that allows us to identify the effect of spending more time under left-wing authoritarianism relative to younger siblings, we show that additional years spent under such regimes result in a higher likelihood of voting and of identifying with right-wing political parties after immigration to democratic countries.
We study the mental health of graduate students at 8 top-ranked economics PhD programs in the U.S. using clinically validated surveys. We find that 24.8% experience moderate or severe symptoms of depression or anxiety - more than two times the population average. Though our response rate was 45.1% and sample selection concerns exist, conservative lower bounds nonetheless suggest higher prevalence rates of such symptoms than in the general population. Mental health issues are especially prevalent at the end of the PhD program: 36.7% of students in years 6+ of their program experience moderate or severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, versus 21.2% of first-year students. 25.2% of economics students with these symptoms are in treatment, compared to 41.4% of graduate students in other programs. A similar percentage of economics students (40-50%) say they cannot honestly discuss mental health with advisers as say they cannot easily discuss non-academic career options with them. Only 26% find their work to be useful always or most of the time, compared to 70% of economics faculty and 63% of the working age population. We provide recommendations for students, faculty, and administrators on ways to improve graduate student mental health.
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.
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.