I am a labor economist currently focusing on the economics of education. Before pursuing higher education, I served in the United States Marine Corps and served tours in Iraq and Southeast Asia. I received a BA in Economics and Statistics from the University of California, San Diego, and an MA in Statistics from the University of California, Berkeley. I received my PhD in Economics from UC Berkeley in 2021.
I will join the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business as an Assistant Professor in 2022 after spending one year as an Industrial Relations Section Fellow at Princeton University.
with Caitlin Kearns
This paper evaluates the Zones of Choice (ZOC) program in Los Angeles, a 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. We study the impacts of the ZOC program on student achievement and college enrollment using a matched difference-in-differences design that compares changes in outcomes for ZOC schools and demographically similar non-ZOC schools. Our findings reveal that the ZOC program boosted student outcomes markedly, closing achievement and college enrollment gaps between ZOC neighborhoods and the rest of the district. These gains are explained by general improvements in school effectiveness rather than changes in student match quality, and school-specific gains are concentrated among the lowest-performing schools. We interpret these findings through the lens of a model of school demand in which schools exert costly effort to improve quality. The model allows us to measure the increase in competition facing each ZOC school based on household preferences and the spatial distribution of schools. We demonstrate that the effects of ZOC were larger for schools exposed to more competition, supporting the notion that competition is a key channel driving the impacts of ZOC. Demand estimates derived from rank-ordered preference lists suggest families place substantial weight on schools' academic quality, providing schools competitive incentives to improve their effectiveness. An analysis using randomized admission lotteries shows that the treatment effects of admission to preferred schools declined after the introduction of ZOC, a pattern that is explained by the relative improvements of less-preferred schools. Our findings demonstrate the potential for public school choice to improve student outcomes while also underscoring the importance of studying market-level impacts when evaluating school choice programs.
Social Interactions and Preferences for Schools:
Experimental Evidence from Los Angeles
(draft coming soon)
AEA RCT Registry: https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4844
Unlike conventional markets, the notion of quality in education markets is vastly more ambiguous and challenging to observe. In addition, there is a considerable amount of debate surrounding the margins of quality that govern how parents select schools, and in a setting with imperfect information, parents may resort to other parents' private signals to make decisions. Therefore, inadequate information, preferences, and social interactions may each play different roles in distorting school incentives. I design an information provision experiment that allows me to study these various factors among parents making schooling decisions in Los Angeles. To study relative preferences for school and peer quality, I cross-randomize two margins of information, and to study social interactions, I use a spillover design that allows me to detect treatment effects for untreated parents in treated schools. I find that receiving information on either quality margin changes parents' decisions, suggesting parents are imperfectly informed about both. I then show that social interactions are prevalent, generating treatment effects for untreated parents in treated schools similar to treated parents. The social interactions are sufficiently large to generate market-level consensuses uniformly moving demand toward higher value-added schools coupled with a systematic shift toward schools with lower quality peers. These findings suggest that when parents are perfectly informed about both school and peer quality, parental interactions are essential for interpreting the information and that demand moves in a way consistent with parents rewarding effective schools, providing schools incentives that are more aligned with improving student learning.
SELECTED WORK IN PROGRESS
Immigrants' Human Capital Decisions in Response to DACA
Assignment Risk and the Returns to Field of Study
with Alonso Bucarey, Dante Contreras, and Pablo Muñoz