Working Papers

Convicts and Comrades: Coerced Labor’s Impact on Early Labor Unions [PDF[CentER Discussion Paper] [Video]

Job Market Paper

Tilburg University CentER Graduate School Best Graduate Student Paper Award, 2023

What role did coerced labor play in establishing early labor unions? This paper introduces a model where certain firms employ convict labor, reproducing the empirical patterns observed in the data. As a result, workers face reduced wages and migrate to other firms, while firms see heightened profits, exacerbating income inequality. In response, workers organize, form unions, and initiate strikes. The calibrated model highlights the role of unions in narrowing income disparities. I use an instrumental variable approach to demonstrate that, at the turn of the 20th century, predominantly Black convict labor significantly boosted predominantly white union growth, strikes, and membership. My empirical findings further suggest that this influence has persisted as regions with a history of heavy dependence on convict labor continue to display higher rates of union membership in the present day.

The Legacy of School Shootings: The Long-Term and Intergenerational Effects [PDF] [CentER Discussion Paper]

Tilburg University CentER Graduate School Best Graduate Student Paper Award, 2022

In recent decades, countless US students have been on school grounds during shootings. This paper examines the long-term and intergenerational effects of school shootings on earnings, educational attainment, and geographic mobility. I find that exposure to a school shooting decreases survivors’ hourly wage by 20.8% and that this effect persists over their lifetime. Furthermore, I show that the effect of school shootings lasts beyond the initially exposed and has a detrimental impact on their children. Having shooting-exposed parents decreases children’s hourly wages by 18.8%.

Selected Work In Progress

Unions and Firms (with Burak Uras)

How do labor unions and firm size dynamics co-evolve in the context of institutional and technological change? This paper offers the first quantitative macro analysis to explain this interplay, focusing on the interactions between firm growth, innovation, industry wages, and unionization. A dynamic general equilibrium model reveals that innovation in general-purpose technology by firms increases both their size and wages. Consequently, this boosts the surplus (rents) that workers can extract in union negotiations, promoting union growth. This simultaneous growth in firms and unions continues until firms reach a certain size threshold. Beyond this threshold, firms’ innovation focus shifts toward labor-substituting automation. While firm size still expands after this shift, wages and union-extractable rents begin to decrease due to automation, making labor substitutable, thus reducing the benefits of unionization. This theoretical model explains the historical patterns observed in firm growth and unionization.