The Impact of School Tracking and Peer Quality on Student Achievement: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Thailand (Job Market Paper— Download pdf)
A common educational practice around the world is to track students into classrooms based on ability. However, despite the popularity of tracking, relatively few papers directly identify the impact of being tracked into classrooms with higher or lower peer ability. This paper estimates the impact of being tracked into a classroom with higher ability peers by using data from public middle schools in Thailand, where students are tracked into classrooms based on a preliminary exam taken before 7th grade. Importantly, all teachers, curriculum, and textbooks are identical throughout classrooms. To distinguish the impact of peers from confounding factors due to selection, I apply a regression discontinuity design (RDD) that compares the academic outcomes of students just above and below the threshold. Results indicate that significant increases in peer quality do not improve student GPA. This suggests that any gains due to tracking, at least in Asian contexts similar to this, are likely due to factors other than peer quality, such as curriculum or teacher quality.
The Impact of Misinformation: Evidence from the Anti-Vaccination Movement in the US (Download pdf)
The increasing amount of fake news has generated significant debate about the proper role of government and social media platforms in combating it. However, little is known about whether fake news can actually change behavior. This paper addresses this question by examining how vaccination rates responded to the unexpected surge in media coverage in 2007 of the verifiably false claim that the MMR vaccine caused autism. Specifically, I use a difference-in-difference approach to compare the MMR vaccination rates of children whose parents were most and least likely to be affected by the news over time. I determine parents’ susceptibility using three predetermined characteristics: whether their child is a firstborn, the child’s gender, and the parents’ age. Results show that susceptible parents were 3.3 percentage points less likely to vaccinate their children with an MMR shot by the recommended age of 15 months and 4.1 percentage points less likely to do so by 29 months. This indicates that at a minimum, fake news caused parents to delay vaccinating their children by over a year, and at most prevented them from ever immunizing their children.
An Empirical Test of Anti-Muslim Bias: Evidence from Property Values (with Abigail Peralta— Download pdf)
We examine whether mosques depress home values in Michigan, which forms the basis for opposition to new mosques. We link administrative data on the universe of property transactions in Detroit and Hamtramck to the opening dates of new mosques. We then compare sales prices over time for properties closer to newly opened mosques to properties that are slightly farther away. Unlike related studies using data from other settings, our results show that exposure to new mosques does not significantly depress housing prices, implying weak evidence for religious discrimination, if it exists.
Do Fair Housing Policies Help or Hinder?: Evidence from Seattle (Download pdf)
In an effort to combat discrimination and reduce racial disparities in housing, several U.S. cities have imposed strict regulations on landlords. This paper asks whether these policies help minority citizens as intended, or inadvertently exacerbate racial disparities in housing. It does so in the context of Seattle, which imposed a ban on background checks, a cap on fees, and a “First in Line” policy that mandates landlords give an apartment to the first eligible applicant. To identify effects, I compare outcomes of black and white Seattle residents before and after the policies. In a parallel approach, I also compare black residents of the city and the surrounding areas before and after the policies. Results from both analyses indicate the policies had no effect on either the likelihood of renting or on total spending on housing.
Behind the Screens: Does the Coase Conjecture Hold Online? (with Catherine Eckel, Ryan Rholes, and Jesse Backstrom– Download pdf)
Online, peer-to-peer transactions proliferated with the advent of markets like Craigslist and Facebook. Yet, we know little about how the characteristics of these markets shape consumer behavior. We test the Coase Bargaining Theorem (CBT) in a computerized environment to study if these online markets introduce behavioral wedges that change bargaining outcomes relative to face-to-face markets. We establish a baseline test of CBT in a face-to-face setting by replicating Hoffman and Spitzer (1982, 1985) and then implement their protocols in a computerized setting where we vary the property rights assignment mechanism and whether subjects engage in repeated bargaining. We replicate the original findings of Hoffman and Spitzer and then find that efficiency decreases significantly, and that self-regarding behavior increases significantly, in the computerized environment relative to face-to-face bargaining. These results suggest that Coase’s theorem may lack predictive power whenever negotiating environments introduce behavior inputs into the bargaining process.
The Impact of Media Consolidation (with Adam Bestenbostel)
The Impact of Increased Funding in the ESL Program (with Andrea Kelly)