Job Market Paper

Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind: Information, Efficiency and the Extended Family Latest draft available here

There is consistent evidence of efficient resource allocation among coresident family members, such as between partners or between parents and children. I investigate the efficiency of resource allocations among non-coresident family members, such as between adult children and aging parents. My paper is the first study to use novel survey data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to document the extent of information asymmetries across households of an extended family. I show evidence of inefficient resource allocation between non-coresident families but also show allocative efficiency is heterogeneous with respect to information asymmetries. I find that families with better information sharing allocate resources in a (Pareto) efficient manner while families with asymmetric information make inefficient allocation decisions similar to those among complete strangers. This work improves our understanding of decision-making in the extended family and provides empirical support for well understood theoretical notions that information frictions hinder efficiency. Since the extended family plays a central role in re-distributing economic benefits, my work suggests policy targeting financial benefits to one generation can affect consumption across generations in some families but not others.

Working Papers

What Do Parents Know About Their Children? Misperceptions of Wellbeing and Implications on Intergenerational Transfers

In a time of increasing life expectancy, and prolonged transitions to adulthood in the United States, a growing number of individuals at many stages of life find themselves relying on family to provide social and financial support. Yet when family networks lack information about particular members' needs and circumstances, that support may be insufficient or inefficiently distributed. I use data from Add Health and the Add Health Parent Study to document incidence and prevalence of misperceptions in the family by contrasting parents’ reporting of their adult child wellbeing with the child’s own reporting. I make two main contributions. First, I demonstrate the potential use of survey data to measure misperceptions by documenting the incidence of asymmetric information and uncertainty in the family and exploring how they relate to different characteristics such as family structure, and demographics. Second, I examine whether misperceptions are associated with parent-child relationship quality and how much family members can rely on each other for support.

Intergenerational Transmission of Personality Traits and Human Capital Formation With Scott Abrahams

Can intergenerational correlation in socioeconomic outcomes be explained by transmission of personality traits across generations of the family? To answer this question, we use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) and the Add Health Parent Study (AHPS) to characterize the transmission of personality traits from parents to their children for a nationally representative sample of a cohort of young Americans, interviewed at adulthood. Such intergenerational correlations have not been well documented for a U.S. population. We document a sizable correlation between the parent and adult child in the Big Five personality traits and grit. Most notably, we document intergenerational transmission in consciousness and grit, two traits that are highly predictive of a host of economic outcomes including educational attainment and income.

Trends in Educational Attainment of Recent Immigrants to the United States

The first objective of this paper is to document changes in the educational profile of recent immigrants to the United States. Using data from the American Community Survey, I present a portrait of recent immigrants' educational attainment and document an increase in the fraction of immigrants with a bachelor's degree or higher among arrival cohorts of 1996 to 2016 for both males and females. My second objective is to analyze possible determinants of this upward trend. I find that at least half of the change in trend for men and women is attributed to changes in education levels within origin country groups. I supplement the analysis by utilizing the Barro-Lee dataset and conduct several counterfactual exercises. My results suggest that within origin country group, change in education is not due to changes in positivity of selection, but instead to an increase in education levels in sending countries overall. My findings cast doubt on the need for a skill-based points system that rewards immigrants for more education and higher skill. In fact, the US is already receiving cohorts of highly educated immigrants in absence of such a major shift in immigration policy.

Works in Progress

Information Availability and Employer Decision Making: Evidence from Job Postings.

Labor Market Policies and Family Formation: The Case of Ban the Box.

Revisiting the Changing Rate of Immigrant Earnings Assimilation. With Seth Sanders


Disparities in Vulnerability to Complications from COVID-19 Arising from Disparities in Preexisting Conditions in the United States with Emily E. Wiemers, Scott Abrahams, V. Joseph Hotz, Robert F. Schoeni, and Judith A. Seltzer. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility (2020).

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified U.S. health disparities. Though disparities in COVID-19 hospitalization by race-ethnicity are large, disparities by income and education have not been studied. Using an index based on preexisting health conditions and age, we estimate disparities in vulnerability to hospitalization from COVID-19 by income, education, and race-ethnicity for U.S. adults. The index uses estimates of health condition and age effects on hospitalization for respiratory distress prior to the pandemic validated on COVID-19 hospitalizations. We find vulnerability arising from preexisting conditions is nearly three times higher for bottom versus top income quartile adults and 60 % higher for those with a high-school degree relative to a college degree. Though non-Hispanic Blacks are more vulnerable than non-Hispanic Whites at comparable ages, among all adults the groups are equally vulnerable because non-Hispanic Blacks are younger. Hispanics are the least vulnerable. Results suggest that income and education disparities in hospitalization are likely large and should be examined directly to further understand the unequal impact of the pandemic.

Modeling residential adoption of solar energy in the Arabian Gulf Region with Nassma Mohandes, and Antonio Sanfilippo. Renewable Energy 131 (2019): 381-389.

We present an agent-based model for residential model adoption of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the state of Qatar as a case study for the Arabian Gulf Region. Agents in the model are defined as households. The objective of the model is to evaluate PV adoption across households under diverse regulatory and incentive scenarios determined by home ownership status, the falling cost of PV, the reduction of electricity subsidies, the introduction of a carbon tax, and the diffusion of renewable energy innovation. Our study suggests that Qatar's residential PV adoption is strongly promoted by the falling cost of PV and can be further facilitated through the reduction of electricity subsidies and the extension of the electricity tariff to Qatari households, which are currently exempt. The introduction of a carbon tax can also play a role in accelerating residential PV adoption, if above $8 per metric ton of carbon dioxide equivalent. The ensuing PV adoption rates would help facilitate the national targets of 2% electricity production from solar energy by 2020 and 20% by 2030.