Working Papers

"Natural Resource Booms, Human Capital and Earnings: Evidence from Linked Education and Employment Records" (Job Market Paper) [draft]

This paper examines the role of local economic conditions in human capital accumulation decisions. I exploit geographic and temporal variation in the recent fracking oil and gas boom, which improved labor market opportunities for young men and women. Using administrative panel data on the universe of students attending public schools in Texas, I find that exposure to the fracking boom during high school led to higher absence and grade retention rates, and lower rates of high school graduation and community college enrollment. These effects are largest for students in the bottom of the ability distribution. I link students to their administrative employment records to show that the same students are more likely to be employed while in high school and directly after, with effects concentrated in the food and retail sectors. These students experience increases in employment and earnings that persist for at least six years past expected high school graduation, implying that reduced educational attainment for these individuals may represent a rational response to improved outside options. My results suggest that natural resource booms may improve individuals' short- and medium-run economic outcomes even when they lead to lower educational investment.

"Economic Development and Public Health" [draft]

Although rapid development of an area generally leads to better economic outcomes like higher standards of living and wages, it can have some negative social impacts as well. Using recent economic shocks associated with localized fracking booms, this paper documents one such externality - increased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. I exploit plausibly exogenous geographic distribution of shale deposits and temporal expansion of the drilling activity in the Marcellus region. Using detailed county-level data from 2002-2016, I find that counties with fracking exposure are associated with additional 5 cases of gonorrhea per 100,000 population, an increase of 20%. The pattern of results is consistent with substantial positive income effects and a changing composition of local population.

Work in Progress

"Intergenerational Transmission of Economic Conditions", with Konstantin Kunze

"The Impact of Industry-Specific Economic Shocks on College and Major Choice"