Research

 

Working Papers

 

1. The Fluidity of Race: “Passing” in the United States, 1880-1940 [pdf] (with Emily Nix and Nancy Qian), NBER Working Paper 20828

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.

 

Current Projects

 

Redistricting and Development: Evidence from Brazilian Municipalities (with Christiane Szerman)