Working papers

Policing Substance Use: Chicago's Treatment Program for Narcotics Arrests. (with Ashna Arora) Latest draft available here.

Media coverage: Chicago Sun Times, The Crime Report

Policy coverage: "Mayor Lightfoot Announces Expansion of Narcotics Arrest Diversion Program"

In the United States, law enforcement officers serve as first responders to most health crises, allowing them to connect many more individuals to treatment services than other government actors, a fact that has come into increasing focus due to the opioid epidemic. In response, police departments across the country have begun to divert individuals that possess narcotics away from arrest and towards treatment and recovery. Evidence on whether these programs are able to engender meaningful changeinitially by increasing participation in substance use treatment, and eventually by reducing the likelihood of continued drug use and criminal justice involvementremains limited. This paper aims to shed light on the potential of these programs by exploiting the eligibility criteria for and staggered rollout of narcotics arrest diversion in Chicago between 2018 and 2020 using a difference-in-difference-in-differences framework. We find that the program reaches individuals with medically diagnosed substance use disorders, increases connections with substance use treatment, and reduces subsequent arrests. We conclude that Chicago's drug diversion program is able to simultaneously reduce the reach of the criminal justice system, expand the number of individuals with substance use disorders connected with treatment, and improve public safety.

The Intergenerational Transmission of Mental and Physical Health in the United Kingdom. (with Tim Halliday and Bhash Mazumder)

IZA Discussion Paper Series No. 14126. (February 2021)

We estimate intergenerational health persistence in the United Kingdom using Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY), a broad measure of health derived from the SF-12 Survey. We estimate that both the rank-rank slope and the intergenerational health association (IHA) are 0.21. We use components of the SF-12 to create mental and physical health indices and find that mental health is at least as persistent across generations as physical health. Importantly, parents’ mental health is much more strongly associated with children’s health than parents’ physical health indicating that mental health might be a more important transmission channel. Finally, we construct an overall measure of welfare that combines income and health, and estimate a rank-rank association of 0.31. This is considerably lower than a comparable estimate of 0.43 for the US, suggesting greater mobility of overall welfare in the UK than the US.

Police violence reduces civilian cooperation and engagement with law enforcement. (with Desmond Ang, Jesse Bruhn, and Ellora Derenoncourt)

Working paper (September 2021)

Media coverage: The Economist, Axios, The Crime Report, The Conversation

How do high-profile acts of police brutality affect public trust and cooperation with law enforcement? To investigate this question, we develop a new measure of civilian crime reporting that isolates changes in community engagement with police from underlying changes in crime: the ratio of police-related 911 calls to gunshots detected by ShotSpotter technology. Examining detailed data from eight major American cities, we show a sharp drop in both the call-to-shot ratio and 911 call volume immediately after the police murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Notably, reporting rates decreased significantly in both non-white and white neighborhoods across the country. These effects persist for several months, and we find little evidence that they were reversed by the conviction of Floyd's murderer. Together, the results illustrate how acts of police violence may destroy a key input into effective law enforcement and public safety: civilian engagement and reporting.

Stress on the sidewalk: The mental health costs of close proximity crime. (Draft here)

Award: International Health Economics Association (iHEA), Graduate Student Paper Prize, Third prize

This study analyzes the impact of crime on mental health. I use two novel, granular datasets from the United Kingdom with daily and street-level measures of both reported crime and individual stress to estimate the impact of over 1 million crimes on the stress level of those in the crimes' vicinity, using panel data with over 75,000 responses from the years 2010 to 2017. I find that on average each reported violent and sexual crime increases stress in its vicinity, where impacts last for approximately 3 days. Separating the impact of the neighborhood from that of a specific recent crime, I show that property crimes have no such effect. Further, I find a one day lag between the timing of the crime and the heightened stress response. Exploring the mechanism of news media as the mediator of information, I observe that on days with crime being covered as front page news individuals report heightened stress.


Presidential Elections, Divided Politics, and Happiness in the U.S. (with Sergio Pinto, Tuugi Chunluun, and Carol Graham) Economica. 88, no. 349 (2021): 189-207.

Media coverage: The Economist, The Sydney Morning Herald

We examine the effects of the 2016 and 2012 U.S. presidential election outcomes on subjective well-being across party identification. We use Gallup data and a regression discontinuity approach and focus primarily on evaluative (life satisfaction) and hedonic (positive and negative affect) indicators. We find that both elections had strong negative well-being effects on those who identified with the losing party, with little or no increase in well-being for those identifying with the winning party. The negative effects for the losing side were larger in 2016 than in 2012, by a factor of three on some indicators, and were driven mainly by women and middle-income households. As such, both elections had a net negative well-being effect, but more so in 2016. Local voting patterns did not have a substantial well-being impact, nor did congressional elections taking place the same day. In 2016, the election also changed respondents’ perceptions about the economy, their financial status, and their community. After both elections, hedonic well-being gaps across parties typically dissipate within two weeks, but there is more persistence in evaluative well-being gaps, especially in expected life satisfaction. The latter gap persisted throughout 2017.

Comparative well-being of the self-employed and paid employees in the USA. (with Tuugi Chunluun) Small Business Economics. 56 (2021), 355–384.

Drawing upon the job demand-control model and analyzing more than 600,000 responses from the nationally representative Gallup survey data over the 2010–2016 period, we find that self-employed individuals in the USA report lower life satisfaction than paid employees (i.e., evaluative well-being). The self-employed also experience both positive feelings such as happiness and enjoyment and negative feelings such as anger and stress more than their wage-earning peers, leading to a stark emotional dichotomy in how they experience their daily lives (i.e., hedonic well-being) consistent with both high job control and high job demand that are prevalent in self-employment. Lastly, the self-employed also report more health problems and lower physical well-being. Income (and low local unemployment to some extent) successfully mitigates the negative effects of self-employment on subjective well-being while enhancing the positive, but education does not do so. Overall, the results suggest that self-employment is associated with predominantly negative well-being effects in the USA.

The August of 2011 saw the largest riots in the United Kingdom in decades. Half of London's boroughs, as well as neighborhoods in several other cities, were impacted through the more than 200 individual riot events that caused £200 ($300) million in property damage. Despite widespread media coverage at the time, we know little about what citizens experienced during the riots. This paper bridges that gap using daily response panel data to estimate the beyond-monetary costs of the riots. Based on the difference-in-differences estimation, the disturbances substantially increased unhappiness and stress in areas they affected. Further, this negative effect did not remain localized, as even neighborhoods without riots experienced a pronounced wellbeing loss. The negative effects persisted beyond the end of the disturbances, until the end of the summer. Citizens changed their behavior in response to the events, respondents in neighborhoods with riots increased their information-seeking and digital communicating behaviors, while they communicated less in person.

Projects in progress

Slow Traffic, Fast Food: The Effects of Time Lost on Food Choice. (with Lester Lusher and Becca Taylor)

Free Communication Technology in Prison. (with Nour Abdul-Razzak, Ashna Arora, and Omair Gill)
An extended abstract describing this multi-year research project is available here.

The Impact of Gunshots on Consumer and Business Activity. (with Jesse Bruhn)