This paper quantifies the extent to which individuals experience changes in reported racial identity in the historical U.S. context. Using the full population of historical Censuses for 1880-1940, we document that over 19% of black males “passed” for white at some point during their lifetime, around 10% of whom later “reverse-passed” to being black; passing was accompanied by geographic relocation to communities with a higher percentage of whites and occurred the most in Northern states. The evidence suggests that passing was positively associated with better political-economic and social opportunities for whites relative to blacks. As such, endogenous race is likely to be a quantitatively important phenomenon.
2. Is economics a science? Well, not yet. [pdf]
3. Choosing Institutions Locally: Determinants of Legislative Size in Brazil [available upon request]
How are institutions determined? This paper studies how legislators locally choose an important dimension of local electoral systems, namely legislative size. To achieve this end, I construct a novel data set comprised of seat proposals and individual legislators’ votes to increase or not legislative size during the pre-2012 election period for a sample of municipalities in Brazil. I then outline and estimate a structural discrete choice model of legislative vote, in which legislators play a strategic game and also decide whether to run for reelection or not. I find that legislators weigh on average approximately 34% reelection payoffs and 66% social welfare when choosing seats. With these results, I run some counterfactual analyses varying the population caps’ function that federal government chooses.
Redistricting and Development: Evidence from Brazilian Municipalities (with Christiane Szerman)