PhD Candidate in Economics, Princeton University
Job Market Paper: A Few Bad Apples? Racial Bias in Policing
(with Steve Mello)
Abstract: We estimate the degree to which individual police officers practice racial discrimination. Traffic police regularly discount the charged speed on drivers' tickets to avoid a discrete jump in the fine schedule, leading to an excess mass in the distribution of charged speeds just below the jump. Using data from the Florida Highway Patrol, we show that minorities are less likely to receive this break than white drivers. We disaggregate to the individual level and find significant heterogeneity across officers in their degree of discrimination. 40% of officers explain the entirety of the aggregate discrimination.
Media Coverage: The Conversable Economist, The Economist, Miami New Times, Mother Jones, Quartz, Vox
The Effects of School Construction on Student and District Outcomes: Evidence from a State-Funded Program in Ohio
Abstract: I study an ongoing state-subsidized program of rebuilding and renovating Ohio’s K-12 public schools and investigate the effect of improved facility quality on student and school district outcomes. The completion of a project increases public school enrollment and district property values. Test scores do not measurably improve upon completion and suffer significant reductions during construction. The implied willingness to pay for a project is lower than total costs but greater than the cost borne by district residents. While the program led to a narrowing in expenditures across district wealth, I find little evidence that it reduced disparities in student outcomes.
Works in Progress
Does the Punishment Fit the Crime? Speeding Fines and Recidivism
(with Steve Mello)
Abstract: We estimate the causal effect of harsher speeding punishments on future driving behavior. To account for the fact that punishments are not randomly assigned, we rely on variation in ticket-writing practices across highway patrol officers in Florida. The fine associated with a ticket written for 10-14 MPH over the speed limit is, on average, $70 higher than that with a ticket for 9 MPH over the limit. Over 30% of tickets are written for exactly 9 MPH above the limit, while less than 3% are written for 10 MPH over, suggesting that officers manipulate the ticketed speed, and by extension, the fine faced by the driver. Officers vary considerably in their propensity to write tickets for the lower fine amount, and we instrument the punishment faced by a ticketed driver with the stopping officer's average lenience towards other drivers. Our estimates suggest that, compared with those receiving a higher fine, drivers receiving the low fine are about 18% more likely to receive an additional speeding ticket in the following year. We confirm that this effect represents a behavioral response by showing that drivers receiving the lower fine are also about 8% more likely to be involved in a car crash in the following year.