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Working Papers

Under Review 
(Coauthors listed in bold are graduate students.)

“The Legacy of Representation in Medieval Europe for Incomes and Institutions Today”
(with Andrew T. Young)


Why can some governments credibly commit to the rule of law and protection of property rights while others cannot? A potential answer involves deep historical traditions of institutions that constrain rulers. We explore whether experiences with representative assemblies in medieval/early modern Europe have left their mark on incomes and institutions today. We employ Stasavage’s (2010) data on representative assembly activity in 30 medieval/early modern European polities and the Putterman and Weil (2010) data on descendancy shares from circa 1500 populations to construct country-level measures of historical assembly experience. In a cross-country analysis, we find that assembly experience is positively and significantly correlated with current incomes, a measure of the rule of law and property rights, and the Polity IV index that emphasizes executive constraint. Once the latter two variables are controlled for, the estimated effect of assembly experience on current incomes is insignificant. However, the correlation between assembly experience and either institutional measure is robust to controlling for (among other variables) current income levels, 1500 income levels, human capital levels, and two different measures of general European influence.  

Does Corruption Impact the Formal-Informal Sector Income Gap? Evidence from Brazil
(with Amir B Ferreira Neto)


Many countries rely on the informal economy to provide a major portion of existing jobs, despite the fact that these jobs are low paying. These same countries also seem to experience a significant amount of corruption. It is possible that corruption exacerbates the existing formal-informal gap, as corruption tends to increase income inequality. Using a combination of individual and municipal level data from Brazil, we show that this is in fact the case. The formal-informal income gap is larger in municipalities that experience more corruption. This finding holds even after controlling for selection into the informal sector and is robust to the exclusion of taxes and corruption related costs from income. Thus, a possible way to address the formal-informal income gap problem may be to first address the problem of corruption.

Executive Influence over Reported Corruption Convictions: Are Conviction Rates a Biased Measure of US State-Level Corruption?


Using state level data on corruption convictions from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) and political importance over five consecutive presidential terms from 1993-2012, I find evidence that reported federal corruption convictions tend to be higher in politically important states. However, this effect decreases in magnitude and becomes statistically insignificant when states have a governor of the same political party as the president. Thus, corruption convictions are systematically different across states based on political factors.


The Impact of a Sorghum-Based Ethanol Plant on Local Sorghum Basis and Cotton Acreage: A Spatial Approach
(with Bing Liu, Darren Hudson, and Michael Farmer) 


This study examines the impacts of a sorghum-based ethanol plant established in a major cotton producing area on local sorghum basis and cotton acreage distribution using county-level panel data from 2002 to 2014. Spatial econometric models are employed to account for any spatial dependence. The Spatial Durbin Model results support the conclusion sorghum basis and cotton acreage within a county depends on the characteristics of its neighbors. Specifically, the findings indicate that the short-run impact on the sorghum basis resulting from hosting a 40-million-gallon ethanol plant is estimated to be a 1.5 cent rise per bushel. And a short-run increase by 0.2 percent in cotton acres over all counties is assocaited with the introduction of the ethanol plant. Methodologically, spatial Durbin model addresses limitations of traditional empirical approaches used in local based studies, such as OLS, spatial lag and spatial error models.

Working Papers
(Coauthors listed in bold are graduate students.)

“The Impact of State Level Regulations on the Gender Wage Gap” (with Joshua C. Hall and Amanda Ross) (August 2017)

“Do Constitutional Entrenchment and Specificity Matter?” (with Andrew T. Young) (June 2017)

“Historical Technological Diffusion and Development Today: An Empirical Test of the Diamond Hypothesis” (with Andrew T. Young) (July 2017)  

“Does it Pay to Live in the Battleground? The Effect of Divide the Dollar Politics on Income” (with Maria Tackett) (June 2017)

“Does the Effect Corruption has on Income Inequality Depend on the Informal Sector?” (with Sean E. Mulholland) (May 2017)

“Is the Devil in the Shadow? An Analysis of the Direct and Indirect Effects of Institutions on Income” (May 2017)

“State Capacity and Economic Growth: The Importance of Social Norms” (with Stephen Devadoss) (May 2017)

“Do Environmental Mandates Discourage Entrepreneurial Activity? Evidence from the US States” (with Jorge Romero-Habeych) (May 2017)

“Was Bastiat Right? An Empirical Analysis of Conflict and Free Trade” (with Glenn L. Furton and Ray March) (March 2017)