Job Market Paper (draft available soon)

Abstract: Smoking bans in bars and restaurants are one example of the many ways in which governments intervene to correct market failures such as externalities. These bans also represent a change in a non-price determinant of demand for alcohol consumed at bars, which could affect total alcohol consumption. This paper studies the effects of smoking bans on the amount and location of alcohol consumption, smoking, and alcohol-related externalities. I use a difference-in-differences method that exploits variation in the effective dates of smoking bans in bars and restaurants across cities, counties, and states. For individuals who drink, smoking bans result in an average increase in alcohol consumption of 1 drink per month. Occasional smokers drink an additional 2 drinks per month and former smokers drink 1 additional drink per month. These increases are entirely driven by changes in bar and restaurant alcohol consumption. Smoking bans have essentially no effect on extensive-margin smoking or violent crimes. They do, however, lead to a 4% increase in fatal drunk-driving crashes in areas with a high prevalence of smoking. Taken together, these results imply that smoking bans lead to unintended consequences in the form of increased alcohol consumption and drunk driving, making their net effect on social welfare ambiguous.

Ban the Box and Cross-Border Spillovers

with David Wasser

Abstract: Ban-the-box (BTB) policies prevent employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history until very late in the hiring process. The intent of these policies is to help individuals with criminal records find employment by reducing the stigma associated with arrest or conviction. However, such a policy could induce employers to statistically discriminate on the basis of observable characteristics, such as race, if employers believe that certain racial groups are more likely to have a criminal history. This paper studies whether labor market effects spill over into jurisdictions bordering those with BTB policies. Using the 2005-2014 waves of the American Community Survey and a difference-in-differences method, we find that annual earnings for employed, young, non-college-educated black men increase by 9.5 percent following the implementation of BTB in neighboring labor markets. Earnings for young, non-college-educated Hispanic and white men are flat. The effects for black men do not appear to be driven by changes in the composition of the sample of employed workers.

Do Uber and Lyft Reduce Drunk-Driving Fatalities?

Abstract: This paper investigates whether Uber and Lyft lead to reductions in drunk driving, as measured by city-level drunk-driver-related motor vehicle fatalities and fatal crashes. I use a difference-in-differences method that exploits the variation in the timing of Uber and Lyft entry for the 100 most populous U.S. cities. Using monthly city-level Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data for 2006 to 2016, I find that Lyft and Uber lead to a statistically significant reduction in nighttime drunk-driver-related fatal motor vehicle incidents. This effect appears to be driven by reductions in incidents several years after the entry of Uber or Lyft into a city, consistent with a lagged adoption of this new transportation technology by riders.