Summary

Touring an ice cream factory in Brazil.
I am an assistant professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. My main areas of interest are organizational economics, public policy, and technology. My research is published in PNAS, the Journal of Financial Economics, and the Journal of Public Economics. My work has been covered by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, NPR, The Atlantic, Slate, and Bloomberg.

Full-Time RA Job Opportunity

UCLA Anderson Professors Jennifer Kao, Melanie Wasserman, and I are hiring a full-time research assistant, starting June 2022. To apply, please see the job posting.

Research

  • Handgun Waiting Periods Reduce Gun Deaths (with Michael Luca and Deepak Malhotra)
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114, no. 46 (November 14, 2017): 12162–12165
    Open Access Article from PNAS

    Handgun waiting periods are laws that impose a delay between the initiation of a purchase and final acquisition of a firearm. We show that waiting periods, which create a "cooling off" period among buyers, significantly reduce the incidence of gun violence. We estimate the impact of waiting periods on gun deaths, exploiting all changes to state-level policies in the Unites States since 1970. We find that waiting periods reduce gun homicides by roughly 17%. We provide further support for the causal impact of waiting periods on homicides by exploiting a natural experiment resulting from a federal law in 1994 that imposed a temporary waiting period on a subset of states.

  • What Makes the Bonding Stick? A Natural Experiment Testing the Legal Bonding Hypothesis (with Amir N. Licht, Jordan I. Siegel, and Xi Li)
    Journal of Financial Economics. 129, no. 2 (August 2018): 329–356
    View on Journal Website  |  View on SSRN

    We use a U.S. Supreme Court case, Morrison v. National Australia Bank (2010), as a natural experiment to test the legal bonding hypothesis. By decreasing the potential liability of U.S.-listed foreign firms, particularly due to class action lawsuits, Morrison arguably eroded their legal bonding to compliance with disclosure duties. Nevertheless, we find evidence of an increase or insignificant change in share values. Tests of longer-run effects of the legal event indicate that foreign firms' disclosure quality and likelihood of facing enforcement actions remained stable, as did investors' revealed preferences for trading on US markets. These results go against the legal bonding hypothesis but are consistent with reputational bonding and with market-based accounts of US cross-listing. Our results may contribute to ongoing debate about civil enforcement of securities laws through class actions.

  • The Impact of Mass Shootings on Gun Policy (with Michael Luca and Deepak Malhotra)
    Journal of Public Economics. 181, Jan. 2020.
    Open Access Article from Journal Website

    There have been dozens of high-profile mass shootings in recent decades. This paper presents three main findings about the impact of mass shootings on gun policy. First, mass shootings evoke large policy responses. A single mass shooting leads to a 15% increase in the number of firearm bills introduced within a state in the year after a mass shooting. This effect increases with the extent of media coverage. Second, mass shootings account for a small portion of all gun deaths, but have an outsized influence relative to other homicides. Third, when looking at bills that were actually enacted into law, the impact of mass shootings depends on the party in power. The annual number of laws that loosen gun restrictions doubles in the year following a mass shooting in states with Republican-controlled legislatures. We find no significant effect of mass shootings on laws enacted when there is a Democrat-controlled legislature, nor do we find a significant effect of mass shootings on the enactment of laws that tighten gun restrictions.

  • The Wage and Inequality Impacts of Broadband Internet
    Download Latest Draft  | Coverage from The Economist

    Who benefits from the adoption of communication technology in the work- place? I combine worker-level wage data with information on broadband adoption by Brazilian firms to estimate the effects of broadband on wages and inequality. Overall, wages increase 2.2 percent following broadband adoption. Consistent with theories of biased technical change, wages increase the most for workers engaged in non-routine cognitive tasks and occupations that require using computer technology. Additionally, I estimate the effect of broadband on selected quantiles of the within-firm wage distribution to test predictions from theories of "management by exception" about the effects of communication technology on different levels of the organizational hierarchy. Consistent with theory, I find that upper-level employees benefit more than employees at lower levels. Furthermore, wage inequality among managers increases following broadband adoption, while inequality among workers decreases or is unchanged. Both new hires and firms' existing employees benefit from broadband adoption, which indicates that broadband's effects are not driven only by better recruitment of new employees.

  • The Value of Corporate Political Donations: Evidence from the Capitol Riot (with Young Hou)
    Download Latest Draft from SSRN  | Summary on The FinReg Blog

    Corporate political action committees donate about $300 million to federal political candidates each election cycle, but research offers mixed evidence on the value of these contributions. We estimate the value of firms' campaign contributions by studying the decision of 159 S&P 500 companies to stop donations following a riot in the U.S. Capitol building. Average cumulative abnormal returns over the two days following firms' announcements to halt donations were −0.6 percent. There is no significant relationship between the magnitude of abnormal returns and (a) the amount of political contributions, (b) the intensity of regulation in a firm's industry, (c) the firm's lobbying expenditures, or (d) the firm's score on governance and political accountability indexes. Analysis of campaign donations following the riot shows that firms mostly honored their pledge to stop donations, at least for the first quarter of 2021. Together, the results suggest campaign donations by corporate political action committees have small effects on firm value.

  • Worker Redeployment in Multi-Business Firms (with Jasmina Chauvin)
    Download Latest Draft  | Coverage from Anderson Review

    We examine to what extent and when multi-business firms internally redeploy workers between their units. Research has emphasized that resource redeployment creates value by allowing firms to escape from declining industries to those with better prospects. We find multiple patterns consistent with this mechanism. However, we also find, surprisingly, that more than half of all redeployments occur between establishments in the same five-digit industry. Moreover, redeployment is often not associated with business exit or diversification, but rather, the opening of new establishments in industries that are growing within the firm. We argue that these patterns are consistent with the theoretical notion of "internal inducements" to redeployment. Overall, our findings suggest redeployment creates value not only in the process of diversification but also horizontal growth.

  • CEO Activism, Consumer Polarization, and Firm Performance (with Young Hou)
    Download Latest Draft

    CEOs are increasingly engaging in activism on controversial social and political issues that do not directly affect their businesses. Simultaneously, the general public is increasingly polarized. We examine how CEO support for gun control after two mass shootings affects firm performance and polarizes consumers. Using mobile phone location data to measure store-level visits, we study (a) the net effect of activism on store performance, (b) the potential for polarization to create asymmetry in the activism’s effects on consumers, and (c) the persistence of those performance effects. We find that activism has small net effects on sales, polarizes consumers, has asymmetric effects across liberals and conservatives, and quickly dissipates. Our results highlight the strategic implications for executives pressured to take stances on controversial issues.

  • Coordination Costs and the Emergence of Hierarchy in Young Firms (with Megan Lawrence)

    We have long known that organizational design choices have a significant impact on a firm's processes and performance. However, most knowledge about organizational structure comes from settings with static or already established structures. We propose and find evidence that coordination costs influence the development of organizational structure. Using a dataset of employees in all new Brazilian firms from 2003 to 2014, we find that factors associated with a greater need for coordination and with a lesser ability to coordinate amongst the founding team are associated with a greater likelihood of adopting a formal structure. These results contribute to our understanding of the role of organizational structure in coordinating knowledge and highlight one mechanism by which founding conditions influence a young firm's evolution and capabilities.

  • Citizens' Perceptions and the Disconnect Between Economics and Regulatory Policy (with Jonathan Baron and William T. McEnroe)
    In Regulatory Breakdown: The Crisis of Confidence in U.S. Regulation. Ed. Cary Coglianese. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.
    View on JSTOR

    Economic theory is clear about the advantages and disadvantages of various ways of regulating negative externalities, such as command and control, cap and trade, taxation, subsidies, and tort law. Yet public policy rarely follows the recommendations that follow from the theory. For example, the standard recommendations for reducing CO2 emissions involve carbon taxes or some form of cap and trade, but discussions of "realistic" ways to reduce emissions in the U.S. have involved mileage standards, command and control regulation of power plants, and tax subsidies for energy efficiency. In democracies such as the U.S., policies must have at least some public support. Citizens' limited understanding of the economics of regulation can lead to lack of support for optimal policies. In studies on the World Wide Web, we document some failures, and some successes, of ordinary citizens to think through the economics of alternative policies. Among other issues, we examine understanding of the secondary effects of taxation vs. subsidies, and understanding of the role of limited information (on the part of polluters, or governments) in the choice between command-and-control regulation and tort law or taxation.

Teaching

  • Business Strategy (MGMT 420)
    UCLA Anderson School of Management
  • Teaching Fellow, Economic Analysis of Public Policy (API 102A)
    Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government