Working Papers

Immigration, Science, and Invention: Evidence from the Quota Acts, with Petra Moser (NYU Stern) • Revision requested at Econometrica.

Media coverage: New York Times, Washington Post, WSJ, Behavioral Scientist, and Marginal Revolution.

Abstract: The United States first adopted immigration quotas for “undesirable” nationalities in 1921 and 1924 to stem the inflow of low-skilled Eastern and Southern Europeans (ESE). This paper investigates whether these quotas inadvertently hurt American science and invention. Detailed biographic data on the birth place, as well as immigration, education, and employment histories of more than 80,000 American scientists reveal a dramatic decline in the arrival of ESE-born scientists after 1924. An estimated 1,170 ESE-born scientists were missing from US science by the 1950s. To examine the effects of this change on invention, we compare changes in patenting by US scientists in the pre-quota fields of ESE-born scientists with changes in other fields in which US scientists were active inventors. Methodologically, we apply k-means clustering to scientist-level data on research topics to assign each scientists to a research field, and then compare changes in patenting for the pre-quota fields of ESE-born US scientists with the pre-quota fields of other US scientists. Baseline estimates indicate that the quotas led to 68 percent decline in US invention in ESE fields. Decomposing this effect, we find that the quotas reduced not only the number of US scientists working in ESE fields, but also the number of patents per scientist. Firms that had employed ESE-born immigrants before the quotas experienced a 53 percent decline in invention. The quotas damaging effects on US invention persisted into the 1960s.

Coming Out in America: Thirty Years of Cultural Change, with Raquel Fernández (NYU) and Martina Viarengo (Graduate Institute, Geneva) • September 2021 

Media coverage: Vox

Abstract: The last few decades witnessed a dramatic change in public opinion towards gay people. We show that this process was initiated by a sharp increase in the approval of same-sex relationships in 1992-'93, following the debate on whether gay people could serve openly in the military. Using a difference-in-difference empirical strategy, we study the hypothesis that the greater salience of gay-related issues during this period initiated a process of cultural change. We show that greater exposure to the gay population, measured in a variety of ways, led to a greater increase in approval. These results, we demonstrate, cannot be explained by the popular view that the increased acceptance of same-sex relationships reflected expanding liberalism and civil liberties.

From Winning an Election to Political Engagement, November 2020

Abstract: How do people react when the candidate they supported wins or loses an election? I explore the consequences of having supported a winning (or losing) candidate on future political participation. I begin by presenting two empirical patterns: 1) there is a positive relationship between county vote share to the winning party and future voter turnout in that county, 2) there is no significant change in the party composition of votes, suggesting that the increase in political participation percolates to voters of all persuasions. I provide evidence for a combination of an "individual" and a "community" effect to explain this joint pattern. While winning voters are "encouraged" by the win of their preferred candidate compared to losing voters, losing voters appear to be galvanized by being surrounded by winners. In the data, the two effects happen to balance, highlighting the significance of peer effects on voter participation. 

Online Appendix 

Widows, Representation, and the (Ms.)appropriation of a Name, with Danielle Lupton (Colgate University) and Steven Schuster (Middle Tennessee State University) • October 2017

Abstract: For much of the 20th century, widowhood was the primary path for women into the U.S. Congress. Yet, little research has considered how familial connections and the name recognition widows acquire from their husbands may affect their political behavior. Drawing on insights from the literatures across American politics, comparative politics, and economics, we argue that widows in Congress will have an inherent name brand advantage, providing them more freedom to pursue their own policy agendas. Using a differences-in-differences analysis of legislative voting behavior from the 63rd to 104th Congresses, we provide evidence that widows are more liberal than their husbands and follow their own policy agendas. We also show that widows are more liberal than other women. Thus, our results indicate that widowhood embeds both the gender and the dynastic dimension of these legislators. Further evidence suggests that this difference is rooted in the brand name advantage that widows have compared to other women, highlighting the complementarity between these individuals’ dynastic identity and their gender identity.