Incarceration of African American Men and the Impacts on Women and Children [Revised June 29, 2020]
This paper investigates the causal effects of black male incarceration on black women’s marriage and labor market outcomes, and 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 an instrumental variable for the incarceration rate. I find that black male incarceration reduces black women’s marriage, but increases employment for more-educated black 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.
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 women dislike commutes more than men, and the differential commuting preferences could lead to a gender wage gap. We study how much the spatial distribution of jobs contributes to the gender wage gap. We document that the gender commute and wage gaps are smaller for workers living closer to the central city, where many high-paying jobs are concentrated. Using a job choice model, we show that differential commuting preferences lead to larger gender wage gaps for workers facing greater wage returns to commuting. Using data on wages and job locations, we estimate (i) the disutility of commuting by gender, and (ii) the wage return to commuting for each worker. Based on the estimated model, we show that reducing commuting frictions—e.g., by increasing commute speed—could 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