Incarceration of African American Men and the Impacts on Women and Children [Revised March 31, 2020]
Since the early 1970s, the United States has experienced a dramatic surge in imprisonment, especially among African American men. This paper investigates the causal effects of black male incarceration on black women’s marriage and labor market outcomes, as well as its effects on black children’s family structure and long-run economic outcomes. To establish causality, I exploit plausibly exogenous changes in sentencing policies across states and over years and construct a simulated instrumental variable for the incarceration rate. I find that black male incarceration reduces black women’s marriage, but increases employment for more educated women. Moreover, black male incarceration increases out-of-wedlock births and negatively affects black children’s educational attainment. Finally, black men at either the extensive or intensive margin of incarceration affect women and children differently. The results suggest the consequences of the tough-on-crime policies for inequality and racial gaps, which could be taken into account when reforming sentencing policies.
Divorce Laws and Assortative Mating in the Marriage Market [Revised May 14, 2020]
Since the late 1960s, many states in the U.S. have introduced unilateral divorce, which allows a spouse to obtain a divorce without the consent of the other spouse. I exploit variation in the adoption and timing of unilateral divorce laws and employ a synthetic control method to study how the introduction of unilateral divorce affects assortative mating in the marriage market. Using the 5% censuses for 1960, 1970, and 1980, I find that the introduction of unilateral divorce increases the correlation of spousal incomes by around 40%, and the correlation of spousal education by 9%. The effect is partially driven by an increase in marriages between two low-income individuals, an increase in marriages between two high-income individuals, and a decrease in marriages between a low-income individual and a high-income individual. At the extensive margin, the introduction of unilateral divorce lowers the likelihood of entering a marriage.
The Geography of Jobs and the Gender Wage Gap (with Yichen Su)
Prior studies have shown that gender differences in commuting preferences can lead women to give up higher wages in exchange for a shorter commute compared with men, indicating that spatial commuting friction could potentially exacerbate the gender wage gap. We study how much the spatial distribution of jobs affects commuting friction and contributes to the gender wage gap. We first document that the gender wage gap is considerably larger for workers living far from high-paying jobs. Then, we develop a job choice model to analyze the role of commuting preferences and commuting friction. Using data from the American Community Survey, the Zip Code Business Patterns, and a travel time matrix, we estimate (1) the indifference curve between wage and commute time with a lower-envelope estimator using data on the observed job bundles chosen by workers, and (2) the wage return to commuting faced by each worker with an upper-envelope estimator using data on the spatial distribution of jobs faced by the worker. We find that reducing commuting friction can significantly lower the gender wage gap.
Mating Preferences and Housing Prices in China: Evidence from Online Mate Search (with Joy Chen) [Revised May 22, 2019]
We estimate the effects of China’s surging house prices on individuals’ marital preferences and equilibrium assortative matching patterns. Using data from China’s largest dating website, we estimate mate preferences based on users’ decision to reply to a first-time message from a contact. We find that (1) site users, in particular women, have strong preferences for home-ownership, and increases in housing prices are associated with higher reply rate by women; (2) compared to non-homeowners, homeowners have stronger preferences for home-ownership; (3) home-ownership increases users’ competitiveness and this effect becomes more pronounced for men when as housing prices increase; (4) there is weak evidence on the impact of housing prices on equilibrium assortative matching patterns.
Work in Progress
Location Choices and the Role of Marriage Market: Evidence from U.S. Young Workers
Mass Incarceration and Stopped Convergence in Black-White Educational Attainment