Halfway Home? Residential Housing and Reincarceration Download
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics (Forthcoming)
Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are released from prison. For many, the transition back to society includes a mandatory stay in residential housing. In this research, I estimate the effect of residential housing on reincarceration using administrative data from Iowa. I address selection into residential housing by instrumenting for residential housing assignment with the rate at which randomly assigned case managers recommend it. I find no evidence that Iowa’s costly investment in residential housing results in reduced reincarceration rates relative to parole. Instead, assignment to residential housing accelerates the timing of reincarceration. I go on to show that residential housing increases reincarceration due to violent crimes and technical violations. This is partially offset by decreases in drug and public order crimes.
Diversity and the Timing of Preference in Hiring Decisions Download
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (2021)
with Glen Waddell
We consider a hiring procedure in which candidates are evaluated in sequence by two agents of the firm. We illustrate how one agent’s interest in enhancing diversity can indirectly influence the other agent’s hiring decisions. Where there is an unequal interest in diversity across the two decision makers, this can be sufficiently offsetting that even highly productive candidates who also enhance diversity are less likely to be hired. In an experimental setting, we first establish that incentivizing subjects to choose females (males) induces them into choosing females (males). Importantly, then, we establish that when subjects who screen candidates in an earlier stage know about this pending incentive they systematically avoid forwarding females (males) when they jeopardize the candidacy of higher-ranking male (female) candidates.
Far From Home and All Alone: The Impact of Prison Visitation on RecidivismDownload
American Law and Economics Review (2019)
Runner Up for Best Paper Award Published by ALER in 2019
Tightening corrections budgets, the lack of a legal right to in-person prison visitation, and the increasing availability of video visitation have led many prison and jail administrators to consider limiting opportunities for in-person visitation. This is concerning given the large literature which argues inmates receiving in-person visits are less likely to recidivate upon release. On the other hand, these studies have not determined whether this relationship is causal or is instead driven by the correlation between receiving visits and having a network of family and friends that can offer support upon release. In this paper, I estimate the causal effect of in-person visitation on recidivism using unique, administrative data from the Iowa Department of Corrections. I find that visitation itself, as currently implemented in Iowa, has no impact on recidivism. Instead, my results suggest prison policies that create meaningful support networks available to prisoners upon release may yield significant benefits.
Overlapping Marathons: What Happens to a Female Runner's Pace When the Men Catch Up?Download
Southern Economic Journal (2019)
with Erica G. Birk and Glen Waddell
We exploit a highly competitive environment in which elite-female athletes are exposed to the presence of men, but without being in direct competition with them. Specifically, we use variation in the how fast the fastest man runs in the New York City Marathon to identify the potential influence of men on female performance while holding constant female-runners’ marginal incentives to perform. Our results suggest that the presence of men negatively affects the performance of female runners differentially across ability, with performance declines concentrated among lower-ability runners.
The Impact of Prison Programming on RecidivismDownload
Corrections: Policy, Practice, and Research (2018)
Prison programming is expensive. From 2009-2011, Iowa spent more than $24 million on prison programming. Some of the programs typically offered in prisons are specifically designed to reduce recidivism while others, such as job training, may reduce recidivism indirectly. Unfortunately, understanding whether programming is effective at reducing recidivism is complicated by prisoners' ability to select into program participation and completion. This paper uses an innovative method to estimate program impacts. Specifically, the sample is limited to prisoners eligible for each program. The sample is further restricted to only those prisoners that either participated in the program or did not participate due to factors beyond their control. Among this sample, nearest neighbor matching is used to evaluate the impact of 16 prison program categories on recidivism. No prison program consistently improved recidivism outcomes in Iowa during the period of analysis.
The Trade Consequences of Maritime Insecurity: Evidence from Somali PiracyDownload
Review of International Economics (2015)
with Alfredo Burlando and Anca Cristea
In the past decade, pirates from Somalia have carried out thousands of attacks on cargo ships sailing through the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, causing what others have identified as significant damage to maritime trade. In this paper, we use variations in the spread and intensity of Somali piracy to estimate its effect on the volume of international trade. By comparing trade volume changes along shipping routes located in pirate waters to those that are not, we estimate that Somali piracy reduced trade by 1.9 percent per year from 2000 to 2010. In addition, we find larger reductions for trade in bulk goods, which are generally shipped by sea and are more likely to fall prey to piracy attacks. While the trade costs of piracy are significant, our estimates suggest that they are much lower than what has been suggested in the existing literature.
Crime During the Austin Power OutagesVariation Visualization
with Neel Lal and Jason Query
In February of 2021, Texas experienced a dramatic cold snap that caused rolling blackouts throughout the state. In this paper, we exploit the pseudo-random variation caused by blackouts in the city of Austin to unravel the relationship between electrical power, light, and crime. Specifically, we combine hourly address level crime data with the number of residents in each zip code without power. We then identify the impact of losing power in a particular area, relying on fixed effects to absorb variation in crime caused by the cold temperature or related factors. We find that power outages cause property crime to fall by more than 50% while drug crimes increase by more than 100%. We also explore the extent to which the “random” outages disproportionately affected poor and minority residents of Austin. We find that areas with more foreign and Hispanic residents experienced significantly more outages than other areas.
Gender Wage Differenitals, A Preference Based Approach
with Jon C. Thompson
A persistent male-female wage gap is a prominent feature of U.S. labor markets. We develop a theoretical model of optimal compensation packages that vary by gender. We show that, even without real preference differences between genders, an increasingly female workforce will shift the firm away from wages and towards benefits if some firms believe wage/benefit preferences vary by gender. We empirically test our theory by examining wage changes among employees as the gender ratio within industries shift. We find that increases in the fraction of workers that are female causes the wage growth of workers already in place to fall.
Video Killed the Prison Visit?
with Benjamin Hansen and Glen Waddell
Recently, policy makers have been increasingly focused on regulating the costs prisoners face in communicating with the outside. In this paper, we investigate the effect of technological changes which changed the costs and provided alternative means for prisoners to communicate with friends or family. Utilizing administrative records on the universe of the incarcerated population in Oregon and daily level administrative data on both prisoner violence and drug offenses, we construct a panel of over 21,000,000 prisoner days. Taking advantage of two distinct price changes and the introduction of three new methods of communication, we study the adoption of new technologies as well as substitution across communication types. Understanding substitution patterns is of particular importance as prison officials in many states are considering replacing in-person visitation with video visitation in order to cut costs and reduce contraband.
Inmate Responses to Incentives for Good Behavior
with Benjamin Hansen and Glen Waddell
We use administrative data from the Oregon Department of Corrections to measure prisoner responses to incentives for good behavior. Namely, we take advantage of the discontinuous shifts in the expected return to good behavior offered by the six month assessment periods in which prisoners are awarded sentence reductions. Our results suggest that prisoners respond to the assessment cycles with worse behavior initially, but also with improvements in behavior over the course of each assessment period. We also find that inmates improve their behavior disproportionately in the days immediately prior to an assessment. Broadly, while the results suggest prisoners can respond to incentives for good behavior, which is consistent with models of Beckerian deterrence, they likely optimize in a myopic fashion..