Reexamining the Consumption Smoothing Benefits of Unemployment Insurance, with Elira Kuka
Journal of Public Economics, 2015, Vol. 132, 32-50
Abstract: The Great Recession spurred renewed interest in the moral hazard effects of the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program, however little research has focused on determining its benefits. This paper examines the consumption smoothing benefit of the UI program over the last 40 years, finding strong evidence of heterogeneity in this effect over time. In particular, the effects of UI are smaller in the 1990s compared with the 1970s. The 1990s were unique because of the long period of low unemployment rates as well as relatively low UI program generosity, thus we test whether the consumption smoothing effects vary by the state unemployment rate and average program generosity. We find suggestive evidence that the effects are larger when the state unemployment rate and average generosity are high. Together, these two dimensions can explain around 30-46% of the differential effect that we find in the 1990s.
Immigrants' Labor Supply Response to Food Stamp Access
Labour Economics, 2018, Vol. 51, pp. 202-226
Abstract: Welfare reform in 1996 created a new, large disparity in Food Stamp eligibility between documented non-citizen immigrants and natives. Subsequent policies restored eligibility for most of these immigrants at different times in different states, and I use these changes to estimate the effect of program access on the labor supply of immigrants–a policy-relevant population. The Food Stamp program is one of the largest safety net programs today, and my analysis provides one of the first quasi-experimental estimates of the effects of the modern Food Stamp program on adult labor supply. I find strong evidence of labor supply disincentives, and the magnitude and margin of this response varies across demographic groups. Access to the program reduces the employment rates of single women by about 6%, whereas married men
continue to work but reduce their hours of work by 5%. These findings confirm the predictions of traditional labor supply theory regarding the response to a means-tested program.
The Effect of Food Stamps on Children's Health: Evidence from Immigrants' Changing Eligibility
Journal of Human Resources, Published online ahead of print
Media Coverage: The Council of Economic Advisers, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (a) and (b)
UC Davis Poverty Center Policy Brief (nontechnical)
Abstract: The Food Stamp program is currently one of the largest safety net programs in the United States and is especially important for families with children: 25% of all children received Food Stamp benefits in 2011. The existing evidence on the effects of Food Stamps on children’s and families’ outcomes is limited, however, because it is a federal program with little quasi-experimental variation. I utilize a large, recent source of quasi-experimental variation–changes in documented immigrants’ eligibility across states and over time from 1996 to 2003–to estimate the effect of Food Stamps on children’s health. I study the medium-run health effects of these policy changes on U.S.-born children of immigrants, whose parents were subject to the changes in eligibility. I find loss of parental eligibility has large effects on contemporaneous program receipt, and an additional year of parental eligibility, between the time children are in utero to age 4, leads to improvements in health outcomes at ages 6-16. This provides some of the first evidence that early-life resource shocks impact later-life health as early as school age.
The Effect of Increasing Immigration Enforcement on the Labor Supply of High-Skilled Citizen Women, with Andrea Velasquez
Abstract: Recent decades have seen a surge in local interior immigration enforcement. In this paper we examine a little discussed, but potentially important, spillover effect of enforcement policies: changes in high-skilled citizen women's labor supply due to changes in the cost of outsourcing household production. Undocumented immigrants disproportionately supply household services--e.g. as maids, cooks, child care workers, and gardeners--so the price of outsourcing these services is expected to rise in response to enforcement. Combining data on the timing and location of these enforcement policies, with data on labor supply from the American Community Survey over 2005-2012, we implement a difference-in-difference approach with location and year fixed effects to take advantage of the staggered implementation of these policies. We find that an increase in intensity of immigration enforcement in a local area reduced the labor supply of citizen college-educated women with children. Several results suggest that changes in the price of outsourcing are driving these results: 1) we see an increase in time spent on household production tasks among mothers in the American Time Use Survey, 2) we confirm that there is an increase in the wages of household workers, and 3) we see no similar effects for high-skilled men or women without children. This indicates there are important unintended consequences of enforcement policies on high-skilled citizen mothers' ability to work.
The Labor Market Effects of Immigration Enforcement, with Annie Hines, Philip Luck, Hani Mansour, and Andrea Velasquez, Under Review, Older Version: IZA DP No. 11486
Media Coverage: The Economist
Abstract: This paper examines the effects of reducing the supply of low-skilled immigrant workers on the labor market outcomes of domestic workers. We use temporal and geographic variation in the introduction of Secure Communities (SC), a county-based immigration enforcement policy, combined with data over 2005-2014 from the American Community Survey to estimate a difference-in-difference model with geographic and time fixed effects. We find evidence that SC had a negative impact on the employment of low-skilled non-citizen workers, who are likely to be directly affected by the policy. Importantly, we also find that SC negatively impacted the employment of citizens working in middle to high-skill occupations. This is the first paper to provide quasi-experimental evidence on the labor market effects of immigration enforcement policies on citizens across the occupational skill distribution, which is of paramount importance given the current immigration policy debates.
Multi-generational Impacts of Childhood Access to the Safety Net: Early Life Exposure to Medicaid and the Next Generation’s Health, with Sarah Miller, Marianne Page, and Laura Wherry, NBER Working Paper 23810
Media Coverage: The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, NBER Digest, VOX, Brookings
Abstract: We examine multi-generational impacts of positive in utero and early life health interventions. We focus on the 1980s Medicaid expansions, which targeted low-income pregnant women, and were adopted differently across states and over time. We use Vital Statistics Natality files to create unique data linking individuals’ in utero Medicaid exposure to the next generation’s health outcomes at birth. We find strong evidence that the health benefits associated with treated generations’ in utero access to Medicaid extend to later offspring in the form of higher average birth weight and decreased incidence of very low birth weight. Later childhood exposure to Medicaid does not lead to persistent health effects across generations. The return on investment is substantially larger than suggested by evaluations of the program that focus only on treated cohorts.
An Apple a Day? Adult Food Stamp Eligibility and Health Care Utilization, with Andrew Friedson, Under Review, Older Version: IZA DP No. 11445
Abstract: In this study, we document the effect of Food Stamp access on adult health care utilization. While Food Stamps is one of the largest safety net programs in the U.S. today, the universal nature of the program across geographic areas and over time limits the potential for quasi-experimental analysis. To circumvent this, we use variation in documented immigrants’ eligibility for Food Stamps across states and over time due to welfare reform in 1996. Our estimates indicate that access to Food Stamps reduced physician visits. Additionally, we find that for single women, Food Stamps increased the affordability of specialty health care. These findings have important implications for cost-benefit analyses of the Food Stamp program, as reductions in health care utilization due to Food Stamps may offset some of the program’s impact on the overall government budget due to the existence of government-provided health insurance programs such as Medicaid.
Work in Progress
Dynamics of EITC Eligibility, with Ann Stevens and Jessamyn Schaller
Multi-generational Effects of Prenatal and Early Life Access to SNAP, with Marianne Page
Multi-generational Effects of Prenatal and Early Life Access to SNAP, with Marianne Page