Girls, Boys, and High Achievers (with R. Fernàndez and E. Patacchini) Link to Paper
This paper studies the effect of exposure to female and male "high-achievers" in high school on the long-run educational outcomes of their peers. Using data from a recent cohort of students in the United States, we identify a causal effect by exploiting quasi-random variation in the exposure of students to peers with highly educated parents across cohorts within a school. We find that greater exposure to "high-achieving" boys, as proxied by their parents' education, decreases the likelihood that girls go on to complete a bachelor's degree, substituting the latter with junior college degrees. It also affects negatively their math and science grades and, in the long term, decreases labor force participation and increases fertility. We explore
possible mechanisms and find that greater exposure leads to lower self-confidence and aspirations and to more risky behavior (including having a child before age 18). The girls most strongly affected are those in the bottom half of the ability distribution (as measured by the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test), those with at least one college-educated parent, and those attending a school in the upper half of the socioeconomic distribution. The effects are quantitatively important: an increase of one standard deviation in the percent of "high-achieving" boys decreases the probability of obtaining a bachelor's degree from 2.2-4.5 percentage points, depending on the group. Greater exposure to "high-achieving" girls, on the other hand, increases bachelor's degree attainment for girls in the lower half of the ability distribution, those without a college-educated parent, and those attending a school in the upper half of the socio-economic distribution. The effect of "high-achievers" on male outcomes is markedly different: boys are unaffected by "high-achievers" of either gender.
I examine the impact of prime-age individuals' employment opportunities on U.S. voter turnout from 1984-2016. I leverage a Bartik-style (shift-share) strategy that uses variation in industry and occupation composition across demographic groups and states to predict changes in employment opportunities. The effects of statewide versus own-group economic conditions are asymmetric: while improved statewide economic conditions decrease turnout, improved own-group conditions increase turnout. The magnitude indicates that a one standard deviation increase in labor demand for an individual's group increases turnout by about 0.8 percentage points. This impact does not differ significantly by gender, but is stronger for non-Hispanic whites than non-Hispanic blacks. Rising own-group labor demand increases interest in voting and may increase individuals' sense that voting is a civic duty. Finally, I also find suggestive evidence that increased own-group labor demand is associated with greater participation in community projects.