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Crimes Against Morality: Unintended Consequences of Criminalizing Sex Work*

AbstractWe examine the impact of criminalizing sex work, exploiting an event in which local officials unexpectedly criminalized sex work in one district in East Java, Indonesia, but not in neighboring districts. We collect data from female sex workers and their clients before and after the change. We find that criminalization increases sexually transmitted...

Anatomy of Corporate Borrowing Constraints*

AbstractMacro-finance analyses commonly link firms’ borrowing constraints to the liquidation value of physical assets. For US nonfinancial firms, we show that 20% of debt by value is based on such assets (“asset-based lending” in creditor parlance), whereas 80% is based predominantly on cash flows from firms’ operations (“cash flow–based lending”)....

Health Insurance and Mortality: Experimental Evidence from Taxpayer Outreach*

AbstractWe evaluate a randomized outreach study in which the IRS sent informational letters to 3.9 million households that paid a tax penalty for lacking health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Drawing on administrative data, we study the effect of this intervention on taxpayers subsequent health insurance enrollment and mortality....

Minimum Wages and Racial Inequality*

AbstractThe earnings difference between white and black workers fell dramatically in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This paper shows that the expansion of the minimum wage played a critical role in this decline. The 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act extended federal minimum wage coverage to agriculture, restaurants, nursing homes,...

The Effects of Police Violence on Inner-City Students

AbstractNearly a thousand officer-involved killings occur each year in the United States. This paper documents the large, racially disparate impacts of these events on the educational and psychological well-being of Los Angeles public high school students. Exploiting hyperlocal variation in how close students live to a killing, I find that exposure...

The Effect of the Credit Crunch on Output Price Dynamics: The Corporate Inventory and Liquidity Management Channel*

AbstractI study how a credit crunch affects output price dynamics. I build a unique micro-level dataset that combines scanner-level prices and quantities with producer information, including the producer’s banking relationships, inventory, and cash holdings. I exploit the Lehman Brothers’ failure as a quasi-experiment and find that the firms that face...

Rational Groupthink*

AbstractWe study how long-lived rational agents learn from repeatedly observing a private signal and each others’ actions. With normal signals, a group of any size learns more slowly than just four agents who directly observe each others’ private signals in each period. Similar results apply to general signal structures. We identify rational groupthink–...

God Insures those Who Pay? Formal Insurance and Religious Offerings in Ghana*

AbstractThis article provides experimental support for the hypothesis that insurance can be a motive for religious donations. We randomize enrollment of members of a Pentecostal church in Ghana into a commercial funeral insurance policy. Then church members allocate money between themselves and a set of religious goods in a series of dictator games...

Watering Down Environmental Regulation in China*

AbstractThis paper estimates the effect of environmental regulation on firm productivity using a spatial regression discontinuity design implicit in China's water quality monitoring system. Because water quality readings are important for political evaluations and the monitoring stations only capture emissions from their upstream regions, local government...

Randomizing Religion: The Impact of Protestant Evangelism on Economic Outcomes*

AbstractWe study the causal impact of religiosity through a randomized evaluation of an evangelical Protestant Christian values and theology education program delivered to thousands of ultrapoor Filipino households. Six months after the program ended, treated households have higher religiosity and income; no statistically significant differences in...

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