Working Papers

(Job Market Paper)

Abstract: This paper examines a series of high school-level interventions designed to encourage college attendance in a historically underperforming region, Appalachian Ohio. High schools received competitive grants to combat information frictions regarding postsecondary enrollment—through campus visits, college fairs, financial aid seminars, etc. I estimate the effect of competitive grants on postsecondary enrollment. Only Appalachian high schools were eligible for the program, and I exploit this policy-induced variation in treatment allocation to compare college attendance rates for high schools that received funding and similar, non-Appalachian high schools that were ineligible for the program using a difference-in-differences framework. Leveraging multiple datasets, treatment specifications, and control groups, I document three findings: i) no evidence suggests that the grants increased college enrollment overall; ii) there is no evidence that attendance patterns shifted to higher-quality institutions; and iii) estimates do suggest the program increased enrollment at previously unattended colleges, expanding students' choice sets upon high school graduation.

Abstract: There is some agreement that a child’s outcomes improve upon adoption relative to staying in foster care homes and that policies should facilitate that transition. The federal Adoption Tax Credit (ATC) can help offset the cost of adoption, yet it is unclear whether it has a positive impact on the number of adoptions or if it merely transfers resources to households who would have adopted anyway. The ATC has primarily been a nonrefundable tax credit, but in 2010 and 2011 the full amount (over $13,000) was available as a refundable tax credit to all families regardless of their tax liability. Using county-level data from Florida, we estimate changes in the number of finalized public adoptions in months preceding the end of the refundability period. We document an average increase of 3.2 additional public adoptions (68 percent) per county immediately before the refundable period ended. While this effect is large, estimates show relative decreases in average adoptions in the first months of 2012, suggesting a retiming of adoptions rather than new adoptions. Importantly, the response appears to be concentrated in higher-income, more populated areas. Poorer, rural counties exhibit no response to the credit’s expiration.

Works in Progress

  • "The Effect of Targeted Federal Economic Spending on Crime: Evidence from the Los Angeles Promise Zone" (with Carl Kitchens)
  • "The Effect of Monetary Compensation of Birth Mother Adoption Costs on the Number of Private Infant Adoptions"

Conference and Seminar Presentations

  • “Information Frictions and Postsecondary Educational Attainment: Evidence from Appalachian Ohio”
      • Southern Economics Association Annual Meetings—November 2019
      • Florida Workshop in Applied and Theoretical Economics—October 2019
      • Urban Economics Association Annual Meeting—October 2019
      • APPAM 2019 Regional Student Conference (D.C.)—March 2019

  • “Public Adoptions, Personal Income, and the Federal Adoption Tax Credit: Evidence from Florida” (with Luke Rodgers)
      • National Tax Association Annual Conference—November 2019
      • Calvin College Economics Departmental Seminar—February 2019

  • “The Effect of Monetary Compensation of Birth Mother Adoption Costs on the Number of Private Infant Adoptions”
      • Southern Economics Association Annual Meetings—November 2018