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The Effect of Partisanship and Political Advertising on Close Family Ties” (Forthcoming at Science)

  • Research on growing American political polarization and antipathy primarily studies public institutions and political processes, ignoring private effects including strained family ties. Using anonymized smartphone-location data and precinct-level voting, we show that Thanksgiving dinners attended by opposing-party precinct residents were 30-50 minutes shorter than same-party dinners. This decline from a mean of 257 minutes survives extensive spatial and demographic controls. Dinner reductions in 2016 tripled for travelers from media markets with heavy political advertising—an effect not observed in 2015—implying a relationship to election-related behavior. Effects appear asymmetric: while fewer Democratic-precinct residents traveled in 2016 than 2015, political differences shortened Thanksgiving dinners more among Republican-precinct residents. Nationwide, 34 million person-hours of cross-partisan Thanksgiving discourse were lost in 2016 to partisan effects.


“Do Privately Owned Prisons Increase Incarceration Rates?” (R&R at Journal of Public Economics)

“How Private Prisons Affect Incarceration Likelihood”

  • Abstract: This paper analyzes how private prisons affect the likelihood an individual receives a prison sentence over probation. I test two plausible mechanisms by which private prisons may influence a judge’s decision: through corruption-induced “over-incarceration” or by lifting public prison capacity constraints. These mechanisms are modeled through a four-stage, three-agent, incomplete information game with a lobbying-susceptible judicial authority. Using data on 600,000 federal trials and an instrumental variables control function approach, this paper finds evidence consistent with the over-incarceration mechanism, but not the capacity mechanism. In states with high corruption levels, an additional private prison increases incarceration likelihood by 0.4%. This effect varies by crime type and demographic subgroup, expanding to 2.3% for public order crimes, 1.3% for women, and 1.2% for college graduates. Groups with lower initial levels of incarceration tend to see larger increases. Effects also depend on private prison size and cannot be explained by crime type compositional changes.


“The Partisan Tithe: Revealed Preferences for Homogeneity in Church Selection and Attendance”


  • EconS 102: Fundamentals of Macroeconomics — Fall 2018, Spring 2019
  • EconS 302: Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory (Developed for online) — Spring 2017
  • EconS 320: Money and Banking (online) — Fall 2014, Spring 2015