Published and Accepted Papers

We estimate the impact of piped water and sewers on property values in late-19th century Chicago. The cost of sewer construction depends sensitively on imperceptible variation in elevation, and such variation delays water and sewer service to part of the city. This delay provides quasi-random variation for causal estimates. We extrapolate ATE estimates from our natural experiment to the area treated with water and sewer service during 1874-1880 using a new estimator. Water and sewer access increases property values by more than a factor of two. This exceeds costs by about a factor of 60. 

How does exposure to risk shape individual preferences for an expanded state? I examine this question in the context of climate change-related risk. Using variation in California wildfire activity, I show neighborhoods experiencing large fires increase support by 0.8 percentage points for ballot initiatives which expand the size of government and by 2.4 percentage points for ballot initiatives endorsed by pro-environment interest groups. The effect is stronger in Republican areas and is not driven by shifts in voter registration or turnout, suggesting the mechanism acts through changes in individual preferences rather than compositional changes in the electorate.

Working Papers

Wildfire Smoke and Private Provision of Air-Quality Monitoring with Andrea La Nauze and Liam Falconer (Revise and Resubmit at Journal of Environmental Economics and Management)

Governments monitor air quality to track performance against regulatory standards and provide information to the public so they can lower their exposure. Recent developments in low-cost technologies have also led to private adoption of air-quality monitors. When information from privately owned monitors is publicly accessible, private decisions to adopt affect the public distribution of information and are important for policy. We study whether privately provided monitors are installed where the public benefits of new air-quality information are likely highest. We find that shocks to air pollution result in substantial adoption. However, these private monitors are concentrated in white, wealthy, and politically liberal neighborhoods and are not concentrated in neighborhoods with lower pre-existing access to monitors, higher long-run pollution, and those with more vulnerable populations. The resulting stark differences in the availability of localized air-quality information suggest that private provision is not a substitute for public provision of exposure information. 

This paper studies how exposure to crime affects demand for policing using a unique setting where both crime and demand can be measured at the neighborhood level. Specifically, I use precinct level returns from ballot measures in San Francisco to provide the first causal evidence on how individuals’ support for pro-police policies responds to exposure to crime. Using variation in criminal activity across neighborhoods around election day, I find that each additional violent crime leads to an increase in support for police union-endorsed ballot positions ranging from 2.9 percentage points for homicides to 0.4 percentage points for lesser crimes. The effects are present during biennial congressional elections but not during municipal elections, suggesting the results are driven by lower-propensity voters. The effects are also largest in areas with high shares of white residents. 

This study analyzes the effect of sleep disruptions on the high-stakes standardized test performance of high school students. I leverage a natural experiment arising from a 2007 policy change in the United States which moved the transition date into Daylight Saving Time (DST) immediately prior to statewide graduation exams in Ohio. Using a difference-in-difference estimation with a panel of nearly 900 school districts, I find transition into DST lowered exam passage rates between 1.0 and 2.9 percentage points. Results suggest DST is not costless for adolescent students and contribute to a growing body of evidence on the negative cognitive effects of sleep disruption. 

Works in Progress

Reversing the River: Environmental Quality and Land Value in Chicago with Allison Shertzer

Climate Change Exposure and Activism with K. Pun Winichakul

Natural Disasters, Local Government Finance, and Federalism