Research.

Publications

"The Declining Labor Market Prospects of Less-Educated Men," with John Bound. 2019. Journal of Economic Perspectives 33 (2): 163-190.

"A Modern History of Fiscal Prudence and Profligacy," with Paolo Mauro, Rafael Romeu and Asad Zaman. 2015. Journal of Monetary Economics 76: 55-70. 

Working Papers and Research in Progress

"Why Bother? The Effect of Declining Marriage Prospects on Employment of Young Men"  (job market paper)

Abstract: Why have so many young men withdrawn from the U.S. labor force since 1965? This paper presents a model in which men invest time in employment to enhance their value as marriage partners. When the marriage market return on this investment declines, young men’s employment declines as well, in preparation for a less favorable marriage market. Taking this prediction to U.S. data, it estimates that fewer young men sought employment after 2 interventions that reduced the value of gender-role-specialization within marriage: i) the adoption of unilateral divorce legislation, and ii) demand-driven improvements in women’s employment opportunities. It then shows, using a structural estimation, that half of the employment effect of a labor market shock to men’s wages is determined by endogenous adjustment of the marriage market to the shock. These findings establish the changing marriage market as an important driver of long-run decline in young men’s labor market involvement.

"Inter-Generational Transmission and the 21st Century Rise in Skilled Mothers' Labor Supply"

Abstract: By most measures, gender progress in the U.S. labor market has stagnated since the 1990s. Yet, this paper reveals that skilled U.S. mothers’ full-time employment rate rose by 12 percentage points between 1999 and 2016. After ruling out several standard explanations for such a change, I hypothesize that the surge of skilled mothers entering the full-time workforce in the previous generation has induced a recent shift in household gender norms. I develop a model in which a new mother’s ex ante valuation of the disutility of pursuing a career is conditioned by her own mother’s prior career behavior, and find empirical support for the model in two-generation datasets constructed from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. An accounting exercise attributes roughly 30 percent of the recent change to the model’s inter-generational mechanism. Shifting norms appear to be promoting gender equality in household labor supply in the 21st century.

"Is There a 'Male Breadwinner' Norm? The Hazards of Inferring Preferences from Marriage Market Outcomes," with David Lam

Abstract: Is there a social norm against wives out-earning their husbands? Can researchers use observed earnings distributions to learn about the effects of such a norm? We show that a variety of underlying social preferences about a given trait all generate positive assortative matching on that trait, and hence the same distribution of spousal trait differences in equilibrium. Applying this result to U.S. Census and administrative earnings data, we find that simple models of assortative matching can very closely replicate the observed distribution of spousal earnings differences, in which very few wives out-earn their husbands. We conclude that the distribution of spousal earnings differences in the U.S. provides little information about the existence of a male breadwinner norm or its effects on gender inequality in the labor market.

"The Gender Gap in STEM: Evidence from Transition to Coeducation at U.S. Colleges," with Avery Calkins and Brenden Timpe (draft coming soon)