Working Papers

"The long-run impacts of America's first paid maternity leave policy" (job market paper).

Abstract: This paper provides the first evidence of the effect of a U.S. paid maternity leave policy on the long-run outcomes of children. I exploit variation in access to paid leave that was created by long-standing state differences in short-term disability insurance coverage and the state-level roll-out of laws banning discrimination against pregnant workers in the 1960s and 1970s. While the availability of these benefits sparked a substantial expansion of leave-taking by new mothers, it also came with a cost. The enactment of paid leave led to shifts in labor supply and demand that decreased wages and family income among women of child-bearing age. In addition, the first generation of children born to mothers with access to maternity leave benefits were 1.9 percent less likely to attend college and 3.1 percent less likely to earn a four-year college degree.

"Prep school for poor kids: The long-run impact of Head Start on human capital and productivity" (with Martha Bailey and Shuqiao Sun).

Abstract: This paper evaluates the long-run effects of Head Start on human capital and economic self-sufficiency using large-scale, restricted 2000-2013 Census-ACS data linked to date and place of birth in the Numident. Our research design exploits the county-level rollout of Head Start between 1965 and 1980 together with variation in eligibility captured by state-level school-entry age cutoffs. We find that the human capital index of children induced to participate in Head Start increased by 10 percent of a standard deviation. Participating children achieved 0.29 more years of schooling, reflecting a 2.1-percent increase in high-school completion, an 8.7-percent increase in college enrollment, and a 19-percent increase in college completion. Head Start also raised the index of economic self-sufficiency by 4 percent of a standard deviation, decreasing adult poverty by 12 percent and public assistance receipt by 29 percent. Our estimates imply substantial, long-term returns to investing in large-scale preschool programs.

"Causes of widening educational inequity in U.S. life expectancy by sex and race, 1990-2015" (with Arline T. Geronimus, John Bound, Timothy A. Waidmann, and Javier M. Rodriguez). Under review.


Work in Progress

"Paid maternity leave and the gender wage gap."


Published Research

"Hope for America's Next Generation" (with Martha Bailey). Science 352(6286), May 2016. PMCID: PMC4900691

"The effect of parental Medicaid expansions on children's health insurance outcomes" (with Sarah Hamersma and Matthew Kim). Contemporary Economic Policy, forthcoming.