Job Market Paper

The Effect of Robot Assistance on Skills 

Abstract: How does working with robots change human capital? To examine how collaboration with robots affects human skills, I exploit a unique setting in which professional baseball leagues provided, and subsequently removed, access to robot assistance for umpires. Umpires demonstrated improved precision and accuracy in ball-strike decisions while using robot assistance, and their performance declined substantially below preassistance levels after it was removed. Both highly skilled and inexperienced umpires exhibited large declines in performance after the removal of robot assistance. Umpires who used robot assistance for longer periods of time faced a steeper decline in accuracy than those who used it for shorter periods. In addition, umpires who worked a full season with robot assistance did not fully return to their initial skill level by the end of the following season. By examining a canceled season during the COVID-19 pandemic, I reject that skill depreciation is solely a result of umpires simply not using their skills. Umpires also experience skill deterioration in determining whether a baserunner is safe, suggesting that the findings are widely applicable to various occupational settings with a similar skill set.


The Impact of Cash Transfers to Poor Mothers on Family Structure and Maternal Well-Being (with Anna Aizer, Shari Eli and Adriana Lleras-Muney), Accepted, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 

Abstract: We use newly collected data for 16,000 women who applied for Mothers’ Pensions, America’s first welfare program, to investigate the effect of means-tested cash transfers on lifetime family structure and maternal well-being. In the short-term, cash transfers delayed marriage and lowered geographic mobility. In the long run, transfers had no impact on the probability of remarriage, spouse quality or fertility. Cash transfers did not affect women’s well-being, measured by longevity and family income in 1940. Given the lack of significant negative behavioral impacts, the benefits of transfers appear to exceed costs if they have, even modest, positive impacts on children.


Working Papers

The Impact of Fear on Police Behavior and Public Safety  (with Felipe Gonçalves and Emily Weisburst), NBER Working Paper No. 31392, Revise & Resubmit, Review of Economics and Statistics

Abstract: We examine how changes in the salience of workplace risk affect police behavior and public safety. Specifically, we investigate cases of police officer deaths while on duty. Officers respond to a peer death by decreasing arrest activity for one to two months, consistent with heightened fear. Reductions are largest for low-level arrests and are more pronounced in smaller cities. Crime does not increase on average during this period, nor do we observe crime spikes in cities with larger or longer arrest declines. While shocks in fatality risk generate substantial enforcement responses, officer fear is unlikely to harm public safety.

Works in Progress

Racial Bias and Decision Fatigue

Abstract: Are people more discriminatory when they are tired? I examine whether a fatigued decision-maker makes more or less discriminatory decisions in three separate settings: bail hearings, physician appointments and baseball games. In the three settings, I find that decision-makers favor own-race examinee early in the session, but the favoritism diminishes gradually and completely disappears by the end of the session. In addition, the decision-makers' accuracy and effort decline with fatigue, but they also become more lenient. These findings suggest that targeted scrutiny early in the session can mitigate the presence of discrimination. Moreover, I find that replacing decision-makers with a strict or algorithmic decision-rule can eliminate observed racial disparities.  

The Long Run Impact of Cash Transfers to Poor Families: New Estimates using Larger Samples and New Methods (with Anna Aizer, Shari Eli, Joseph Ferrie and Adriana Lleras-Muney)