Research

I work broadly in labor economics and the economic history of the U.S. I was trained as an economic historian with a focus on labor-related issues. Since my graduate training, I have branched out into analyses of contemporary issues in labor economics. I often combine econometric analysis with significant amounts of historical, policy, and primary source research.

For a copy of a research report Yasemin Dildar and I wrote on the benefits of homeownership in California, click on the link for “Homeownership Study”, above.

You can find an up-to-date version of my CV here.

Published Work

Reference Dependent Preferences and Labor Supply in Historical Perspective (with Philip Mellizo), forthcoming, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics

Did early textile workers conform to the rational, life-cycle model of labor supply, or did they aim for a target income more in line with reference-dependent preferences? In this paper, we use data from a New England textile mill between 1834 and 1855 to show that workers were target earners. In addition to providing more evidence for a model of labor supply based on behavioral economics, our findings show that the standard (neoclassical) model of economic history does not capture important features of the early American economy and the rise of industrialization.

The Impact of Videogames on Time Allocation Decisions and Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from the American Time Use Survey, Electronic International Journal of Time Use Research Vol. 13, pp. 34-57, 2016

This paper is the first attempt to measure the effects of playing videogames on adults’ time use decisions and labor market outcomes. Additionally, it adds in a novel way to a relatively sparse literature on the effects of video game playing on children’s time use and human capital development.

On the Question of Court Activism and Economic Interests in 19th Century Married Women’s Property Law, book chapter published in Law and Social Economics: Essays in Ethical Values for Theory, Practice, and Policy (Mark White, ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

In this book chapter, I reevaluate the economic effects of these important statutes by drawing on the case law related to married women’s rights over their property and earnings. Unlike previous studies that focused solely on legislation which find a positive effect of the laws, my research shows the ways in which courts actively limited their applicability by holding onto traditional conceptions of a married woman’s position in the household and her (diminished) capacity to enter into contracts.

Working Papers

The Effects of Increasing the Minimum Wage on Prices: Analyzing the Incidence of Policy Design and Context (with Eric Nilsson): Political Economy Research Institute Working Paper #411 (January 2016); Upjohn Institute Working paper (2016); link to most recent version (in preparation for submission)

We analyze the price pass-through effect of the minimum wage and use the results to provide insight into the competitive structure of low-wage labor markets. Using monthly price series, we find that the pass-through effect is entirely concentrated on the month that the minimum wage change goes into effect, and is much smaller than what the canonical literature has found. We then discuss why our results differ from that literature, noting the impact of series interpolation in generating most of the previous results.

Internal Migration and the Rise of Industrialization in the 19th Century U.S., submitted

What was the extent and nature of rural-urban internal migration in the middle of the 19th century? How are internal migration, urbanization, and industrialization linked? This paper uses linked U.S. Census data to answer these questions. I find that internal migration to urban areas was relatively minor and was dominated by younger white-collar workers. In other words, internal migrants to urban areas did not significantly constitute the early industrial labor supply.

The effects of the Married Woman’s Property Laws on Divorce Rates in the late-19th Century U.S. (with Yasemin Dildar), submitted

Did statutes giving women rights over their property and earnings contribute to the rise in divorces in the late-19th century U.S.? Combining a large amount of court case data with a dataset on divorce rates by state, we analyze the effects of these important statutes and find that the property acts increased divorce rates.

Do secure property rights promote economic growth? Evidence from the Mill Acts, submitted

Do secure property rights promote economic growth or can they serve as a barrier to competing uses? Recent work in the legal and economic history of the United States has analyzed cases in which property rights were sometimes compromised in order to promote economic development. I assess these claims empirically using the case of the Mill Acts, which were laws enacted to encourage the building of flour and gristmills but which were often interpreted to apply to larger, industrial projects. I find that the laws had a positive impact on labor productivity and technological growth, and I find some evidence that the laws aided in the sectoral shift from agriculture to manufacturing.

 

Other Published Work

Book reviews of Joe Burns, Reviving the Strike (2014, Working USA – now titled Journal of Labor and Society), Joe Burns, Strike Back (2014, Labor History), Tom Slee, What’s Yours is Mine (June 2016, Working USA – now titled Journal of Labor and Society), Sven Beckert and Seth Rockman (eds.), Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development (2017, Journal of Labor and Society). Contact me for pre-publication drafts of any of the book reviews.

Encyclopedia entry for Oxford Encyclopedia of American Business, Labor, and Economic History (2013), Melvyn Dubofsky (editor), “Labor Productivity Growth”

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