Research

Southernization: The Long-Term Effect of Migration on Racial Prejudice and Political Preferences [job market paper]

Abstract: Between 1940 and 1970, 8 million white southerners left the US South and settled in other states. Despite their distinctive political preferences, religious practices, and racial attitudes, this migration attracts little attention from researchers. Using a shift-share instrument to isolate plausibly exogenous variation in southern push-factors driving the migration, I show it had a large effect on the Republican vote share in northern and western counties fifty years later in the 2020 election. This reflects the migration's effect on adherence to evangelical Protestantism and frequency of church attendance. I show the migration also caused a long-lasting increase in anti-Black hate crimes and measures of implicit and explicit racial bias. Using survey data, I then confirm that these effects operate, in part, through a spillover effect on non-southerners.

Subjective Well-being and Social Desirability

Abstract: Survey measures of depression are increasingly used by economics researchers to provide a nuanced account of well-being. I show that levels of depression reported using such measures are significantly higher and levels of happiness significantly lower in survey interviews conducted using a response mode that allows for anonymous reporting compared to a mode that does not in three longitudinal surveys widely used in economics research. I exploit randomized assignment to survey mode, as well as panel methods, to show that this reflects the causal effect of survey mode, not selection. The difference in reported depression and happiness between modes is comparable to the difference between individuals in the 25th and 75th income percentiles. This finding suggests perceptions of social desirability may substantially bias measures of subjective well-being.

Cool Job Bro: Changes in Male Occupational Preferences since World War 2

Abstract: I leverage differential rates of mobilization and casualties between states in World War 2 as an exogenous shock to female labor force participation in the 1940s and 1950s that exposed younger cohorts of men to temporarily higher levels of female employment before they entered the labor force. Men born in states with higher female labor force participation in 1950 are more likely to enter female-dominated occupations in later decades with no corresponding effect on women. I show that the effect among men is initially driven by younger cohorts and that it persists throughout their lives, suggesting increased exposure shaped men's beliefs about the gender appropriateness of female-dominated occupations. The effect also persists across decades, indicating that it propagated from older to younger cohorts of men. 

Is Your Gain My Pain? Effects of Relative Income and Inequality on Psychological Well-being [with Johannes Haushofer and Jeremy Shapiro]

Abstract: We test the causal effect of changes in own wealth, relative wealth, and inequality on psychological well-being and consumption by leveraging exogenous changes in household wealth, village mean wealth, and village inequality resulting from a randomized controlled trial of unconditional cash transfers in Kenya. We find that increases in own wealth lead to large and robust increases in well-being. Increases in neighbors' wealth, proxied by the mean wealth of a village, have a negative effect on an index of psychological well-being variables. This effect is driven by a negative effect on life satisfaction; we find no effect of relative wealth on measures of happiness, depression, or stress. We also find suggestive evidence of a negative consumption response to increases in village mean wealth, though it is imprecisely estimated. Finally, we are able to speak to the casual effect of changes in overall comparison group inequality, holding constant an individual's rank within the group. We find that such changes in inequality have no effect on well-being or consumption.