Current Projects

Local Externalities and Federal Policy-Making

Local policies often have effects beyond the bounds of the implementing jurisdictions. These externalities can impose heavy costs on surrounding districts. As a result, there are often incentives for serveral districts to impose a uniform national policy that preempts local discretion and mitigate these externalities. This is especially true in economic and environmental matters.

National Commerce, Local Interest, and the Judiciary Act of 1875

The power of the federal judiciary in the U.S. grew dramatically through the 19th Century. I develop a model incorporating the Federalist founders' concerns about local biases in judicial proceedings and show this fear incentivized Whigs and Republicans to support a strong central judiciary in line with the development of a national economy. Agrarian Southern and Western states resisted changes which prevented them from repudiating debt in the lead-up to and aftermath of the Civil War. Throughout this period, Northeastern states experienced relatively better access to interstate and international credit than their neighbors, as predicted by the model. I support the model with data on railroad development and a roll call on the Judiciary Act of 1875.

Preempting Preemption in Federal Systems

I develop a formal model of rule making in federations where uniform rules are desirable but resisted by ideologically diverse states. Individual states initially set local rules under the threat of preemption by a national legislature. As preemption is costly to extreme states from an ideological perspective, those states can unilaterally decide to partially moderate their own rules relative to the rest of the federation in an effort to disincentivize such a legislative act and thereby preempt the preemption. I analyze these outcomes in both a single-shot format and repeated play, with individual and social welfare implications for both.

Policy-Making with Outside Options

In Political Science, most models assume that policies apply uniformly across the population. However, there are many types of policies that do not affect everyone equally. Some policies are targeted towards particular populations on the basis of fixed characteristics and still more that affect only those individuals that choose to engage in certain behaviors. Examples of such polies are those that relate to driving, political activity, and business activity.

Policy Bias with Outside Options

Most voting analyses focus on policy preferences of individuals who are bound by those voting outcomes, yet often voters are subjected to the policy only if they choose to engage in certain activities. I focus on one such policy: foreclosure law. While elected politicians enact relevant policies, only voters that choose to participate in the mortgage market by purchasing rather than renting are directly affected. I develop a formal model and empirical analysis of home ownership in the United States as affected by both foreclosure policy and the workforce demographics of the region. I identify a clear nonmonotonic relationship between the number of debtor protections in place and home ownership rates, offering support for moderate policies despite a majority being in favor of unbounded protections under traditional models.

Committee Agenda Setting

While there is a wide literature on committee decision-making processes, the manner in which committees determine their agendas is less-studied. When there is an elective agenda, committee members may differ on which matters to take up, leading to conflict prior to the final decision-making stage.

Dynamic Committee Decision-Making (with Ben Johnson)

:We focus on committee decision-making in a dynamic context. We present a model that demonstrates how committee members tradeoff between certainty in the moment against expectations about the future. We show that when a decision is made affects what decision is made. Under mild conditions, some players take losses instead of a zero payout in the present in an effort to prevent a worse loss in the future, something we call a sacrifice region. Our model has implications for agenda-setting and committee decision-making more broadly. We apply our model to a court's agenda-setting procedures, an admissions committee, and jury selection process.

Finance and Educational Outcomes

The structure of educational markets varies from the structur of many traditional markets due to the unique demands of several actors. Rather than a simple transaction between students and schools, the market for education is a multi-sided one in which students, schools, employers, and governments interact together.

Local Politics and Access to Higher Education

Unlike in their earlier educational careers, in the post-secondary environemnt, students must decide the level of quality and engagement in their own education. Meanwhile, universities, employers, and governments also maintain preferences over the educational market that they may attempt to influence. this project applies formal models to develop empirical predictions regarding the educational choices of indivuals and universities in light of the financial political economy of higher education.

Media Markets and Political Waves

Since the 1990s, political campaigns in the United States have become increasingly nationalized. As a result, national issues and national sentiments are becoming increasingly important in local races. This introduces new challenges to our understanding of local campaigns and the effects of media coverage.

Media Markets, Wave Elections, and the Incumbency Advantage

High levels of media market congruence benefit challengers by making local issues more salient, including the records of local incumbents. However, this effect may fluctuate across electoral cycles as broader state or national moods vary. In particular, those incumbents that are generally the most-vulnerable due to high levels of congruence may instead obtain an advantage when there is a strong national trend, as they are better-able to emphasize local issues and issues that distinguish them from the national norm, making it more difficult for challengers to `ride the wave' into office.


Essays in State and Federal Politics

Doctoral Dissertation. Princeton University (2018): 1-158.

To Elect or to Appoint? Bias, Information, and Responsiveness of Bureaucrats and Politicians

with Matias Iaryczower and Matthew Shum. Journal of Public Economics 97 (2013): 230-244.


6623 Washington Ave. #2BS
University City, MO 63130


+1 (626) 372.3753