Department of Economics
University of Illinois at Chicago
601 South Morgan Street
706 University Hall
Chicago, IL 60607
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|June 2018||Racial Divisions and Criminal Justice: Evidence from Southern State Courts|
with Conrad Miller: w24726
The US criminal justice system is exceptionally punitive. We test whether racial heterogeneity is one cause, exploiting cross-jurisdiction variation in criminal justice practices in four Southern states. We estimate the causal effect of jurisdiction on initial charge outcome, validating our estimates using a quasi-experimental research design based on defendants that are charged in multiple jurisdictions. Consistent with a simple model of ingroup bias in electorate preferences, the relationship between local punitiveness and the black share of defendants follows an inverted U-shape. Heterogeneous jurisdictions are more punitive for both black and white defendants. By contrast, punishment norms are unrelated to local crime rates. Simulation results suggest that adopting the punishment norms...
|February 2017||Illusory Gains from Chile's Targeted School Voucher Experiment|
with Steven Rivkin, Rui Yan: w23178
In 2008, Chile implemented a targeted voucher program that increased voucher values for disadvantaged students at participating schools by approximately 50%. Although disadvantaged students made substantial fourth grade test score gains that other studies have attributed to the program, our analysis raises serious doubts that the program had a substantial effect on cognitive skills. First, there was only a minor reduction in class size and little evidence of increases in any inputs. An audit showed that many schools were not using additional revenues for permitted expenditures, and estimates that exploit a discontinuity in the revenues allocated to schools show no evidence of positive effects of allocated funds on achievement growth. In addition, there is limited evidence of competitive or...
|May 2010||Building Social Capital Through MicroFinance|
with Erica M. Field, Rohini Pande: w16018
A number of development assistance programs promote community interaction as a means of building social capital. Yet, despite strong theoretical underpinnings, the role of repeat interactions in sustaining cooperation has proven difficult to identify empirically. We provide the first experimental evidence on the economic returns to social interaction in the context of microfinance. Random variation in the frequency of mandatory meetings across first-time borrower groups generates exogenous and persistent changes in clients' social ties. We show that the resulting increases in social interaction among clients more than a year later are associated with improvements in informal risk-sharing and reductions in default. A second field experiment among a subset of clients provides direct evidence...
Published: “The Economic Returns to Social Interaction: Experimental Evidence from Microfinance” (with Rohini Pande and Benjamin Feigenberg). Review of Economic Studies , October 2013, 80(4): 1459 - 1483 .