Department of Economics
Ph.D., Economics, Northwestern University, 2013 (expected)
MA, Economics, Northwestern University, 2007
BA, Economics and Mathematics, University of Virginia, 2006.
Fields of Specialization
Economic History, Applied Microeconomics, Law and Economics
Job Market Paper
"Plea Bargaining and Sentencing Discrimination: Evidence from England and Wales, 1870-1910"  Download  Show Abstract
Plea bargaining is the dominant method of adjudicating criminal cases in the United States and England today, but little is known about how this institution affects discrimination in sentencing. Bargaining began to emerge as the primary way of settling criminal charges over the late nineteenth century in England and Wales. I find that there were longer sentences for defendants with higher socioeconomic status in 1870, but this disparity declined to almost zero by 1910. I estimate this sentencing penalty using an empirical model to account for selection into the decision to plead guilty as well as the verdict of the jury. I then test in the cross-section in order to explain the decline and find that higher rates of guilty pleas at the county level are correlated with less discrimination, controlling for the defendant's own pleading behavior. The results suggest that the development of plea bargaining can lead to more equal sentencing even for defendants who elect for a trial.
"Cementing the Case for Collusion under the National Recovery Administration," with Mark Chicu and Nicolas L. Ziebarth, revision requested, Explorations in Economic History  Download  Show Abstract
Macroeconomists have long debated the aggregate effects of anti-competitive provisions under the “Codes of Fair Conduct” promulgated by the National Industrial Recovery Act. Despite this disagreement, there is only limited evidence documenting any actual effects at the micro level. We use a combination of narrative evidence and a novel plant-level dataset from 1929, 1931, 1933, and 1935 to study the effects of the NIRA in the cement industry. We develop a test for collusion specific to this particular industry. We find strong evidence that before the NIRA, the costs of a plant's nearest neighbor had a positive effect on a plant's own price, suggesting competition.
After the NIRA, this effect is completely eliminated with no correlation between a plant's own price and its neighbor's cost.
"Did the National Recovery Administration Foster Collusion? Evidence from the Macaroni Industry," with Nicolas L. Ziebarth, revision requested, Journal of Economic History  Show Abstract
There has been much debate about what affect Roosevelt's codes of fair conduct had. A number of economists at the time and today e.g. Bittlingmayer (1995); Alexander (1994); Taylor (2007) have suggested that it effectively cartelized most of the American economy and pushed down output. Others such as Alexander (1997); Krepps (1997); Alexander and Libecap (2000) argue that this piece of legislation had little effect for a variety of reasons from cost heterogeneity to lack of government enforcement. However, all of this work has been plagued by a lack of firm level data and spotty industry level data where available. We use newly collected data from the Census of Manufactures from the macaroni industry to examine this collusion question. Using an empirical test suggested by Athey et al. (2004), we find evidence that the codes did facilitate collusion. This is reflected in both a fall in the correlation between firm-level price and cost as the case for collusion by examining an industry--macaroni--that was held up as a paradigmatic case of failed collusion (Alexander, 1994).
"Older and Wiser? The Ages of Criminals in Victorian London," with Nicolas L. Ziebarth  Show Abstract
We use a newly available data set consisting of all felony trials in London and the surrounding Middlesex County from 1835 to 1913 to analyze changing demographic patterns in crime commission. We find that the average age of offenders increases by 8.6 years, which is far more than can be explained through longevity increases or other jurisdictional changes. Moreover, this increase is much larger for crimes committed for economic gain, such as larceny, than for crimes of violence. We build a model to explain the increase in the number of older offenders through skill mismatch. As industrialization proceeds, older workers increasingly find their specific human capital unsuitable to the level of technology, which forces a fraction into crime.
Prof. Joel Mokyr (Committee Chair)
Prof. Joseph Ferrie
Prof. Lori Beaman