I am an Assistant Professor of Economics and Biehler Junior Faculty Fellow at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I am also a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).
Before pursuing higher education, I served in the United States Marine Corps and served tours in Iraq and Southeast Asia. I received my PhD in Economics from UC Berkeley in 2021 and spent one year as a Postdoctoral Research Associate with the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University.
Social Interactions and Preferences for Schools: Experimental Evidence from Los Angeles
This paper studies how parents’ preferences for schools are affected by information about school and peer quality and how social interactions mediate changes in demand. I design an information intervention that cross-randomizes whether parents receive information about school quality (school value-added) and peer quality. Using a spillover design that varies the saturation of information across schools, I also randomize parents’ proximity to other parents with similar information. I find that the information leads to changes in parental preferences toward higher value-added schools, and this occurs when both parents and their neighbors receive information. These results imply substantial information spillovers. I complement this evidence with survey data on the distribution of beliefs over school and peer quality and conclude that the direct and spillover effects of my experiment come primarily from changes in parental preferences rather than an updating of parental beliefs in response to information. These findings show that when parents are informed about school and peer quality, their social interactions lead to changes in preferences in a way that rewards more effective schools.
The Impact of Public School Choice: Evidence from Los Angeles’ Zones of Choice
Does a public school district that expands school choice provide better outcomes for students than a neighborhood-based assignment system? Do public school choice systems produce market-level effects? This paper answers these questions by studying the Zones of Choice program, a novel school choice initiative that created small high school markets in some neighborhoods but left traditional attendance-zone boundaries in place throughout the rest of the district. The policy design allows us to uniquely study market-level impacts of choice on student achievement and college enrollment using a differences-in-differences design. We find that student outcomes in ZOC markets increased markedly, narrowing achievement and college enrollment gaps between ZOC neighborhoods and the rest of the district. These gains are largely explained by general improvements in school effectiveness rather than by changes in student match quality. To explore the role of competition in driving these gains, we construct a competition index that leverages differences in school popularity and the spatial differentiation of students and schools at the program’s onset. We find that the effects of ZOC are larger for schools exposed to more competition, supporting the notion that competition is a key channel through which ZOC exerts its impacts. Demand estimates derived from rank-ordered preference lists suggest families place substantial weight on schools’ academic quality, and this weight provides schools with competition-induced incentives to improve their effectiveness. Our findings demonstrate that public school choice programs have the potential to improve school quality, reduce neighborhood-based disparities in educational opportunity, and thus produce sustained improvements in student outcomes.
Independent Contracting, Self-Employment, and Gig Work: Evidence from California Tax Data
We use de-identified data from California personal income tax returns to measure the frequency and nature of independent contracting work in California. We identify independent contractors by the presence of a Schedule C on the tax return and/or the receipt of a Form 1099 information return. We estimate that 14.4% of California workers aged 18-64 in tax year 2016 had some independent contracting income; over half of these do not have traditional jobs generating W-2s and get all of their earnings from independent contracting. Workers with low earnings are significantly more likely to earn independent contracting income and to rely primarily or exclusively on that income. We explore the characteristics of independent contractors and their distribution across family type, geography, and industry.