The Decision to Carry: The Effect of Crime on Concealed-Carry Applications PDF

Joint with Briggs Depew, Journal of Human Resources, Forthcoming

Despite persistent debate on the role of concealed-carry legislation, decisions to legally carry concealed handguns are not well understood. Using detailed data on concealed-carry permit applications, we explore whether individuals apply for concealed-carry permits in response to crime. We find that recent homicides increase applications in areas relatively near to the incident. The effects are driven by gun-related homicides, and are more pronounced for white, male, and Republican applicants. We also find suggestive evidence that applicants are more responsive when they share a demographic characteristic with the homicide victim. The results further indicate that applications after recent homicides are more likely to be renewed, consistent with persistent precautionary behaviors. Our findings provide causal evidence that crime risk influences individual decisions regarding legal gun use.

Substance-Abuse Treatment Centers and Local Crime PDF

Joint with Samuel Bondurant and Jason Lindo, Journal of Urban Economics, Forthcoming

In this paper we estimate the effects of expanding access to substance-abuse treatment on local crime. We do so using an identification strategy that leverages variation driven by substance-abuse-treatment facility openings and closings measured at the county level. The results indicate that substance-abuse-treatment facilities reduce both violent and financially motivated crimes in an area, and that the effects are particularly pronounced for relatively serious crimes. The effects on homicides are documented in two sources of homicide data and are concentrated in highly populated areas.


College Party Culture and Sexual Assault PDF

Joint with Jason Lindo and Peter Siminski, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 10(1), 2018

This paper considers the degree to which events that intensify partying increase sexual assault. Estimates are based on panel data from campus and local law-enforcement agencies and an identification strategy that exploits plausibly random variation in the timing of Division 1 football games. The estimates indicate that these events increase daily reports of rape with 17-24 year old victims by 28 percent. The effects are driven largely by 17-24 year old offenders and by offenders unknown to the victim, but we also find significant effects on incidents involving offenders of other ages and on incidents involving offenders known to the victim.


Substance-Abuse Treatment and  Mortality PDF

Journal of Public Economics, 122, 2015

Drug-overdose deaths, which have more than doubled over the past decade, represent a growing public-health concern. Though substance-abuse treatment may be an effective way to reduce drug abuse, evidence for a causal effect of treatment on drug-related mortality is lacking. Given the stigma associated with treatment, low completion rates, high risk of relapse, and that many patients are referrals from the criminal justice system, the effect of treatment is not obvious a priori. In this paper, I analyze the effect of substance-abuse treatment on mortality by exploiting county-level variation in treatment facilities driven by facility openings and closings. The estimates indicate that a 10-percent increase in facilities lowers a county's drug-induced mortality rate by 2 percent. Moreover, the benefits of treatment facilities persist across a range of individual and county characteristics and further indicate that spillovers of treatment reduce other causes of death related to drug abuse.

Alcohol and Student Performance: Estimating the Effect of Legal Access  PDF

Joint with Jason Lindo and Glen Waddell, Journal of Health Economics 32(1), 2013

We consider the effect of legal access to alcohol on student achievement. Our preferred approach identifies the effect through changes in one's performance after gaining legal access to alcohol, controlling flexibly for the expected evolution of grades as one makes progress towards their degree. We also report RD-based estimates but argue that an RD design is not well suited to the research question in our setting. We find that students' grades fall below their expected levels upon being able to drink legally, but by less than previously documented. We also show that there are effects on women and that the effects are persistent. Using the 1997 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we show that students drink more often after legal access but do not consume more drinks on days on which they drink.


Are Big-Time Sports a Threat to Student Achievement?  PDF

Joint with Jason Lindo and Glen Waddell, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 4(4), 2012

We consider the relationship between collegiate-football success and non-athlete student performance. We find that the team's success significantly reduces male grades relative to female grades. This phenomenon is only present in the fall quarters, which coincides with the football season.  Using survey data, we find that males are  more likely than females to increase alcohol consumption, decrease studying, and increase partying in response to the success of the team. Yet, females also report that their behavior is affected by athletic success, suggesting that their performance is likely impaired but that this effect is masked by the practice of grade curving. 

Working Papers

Is Any Press Good Press? The Unanticipated Effects of Title IX Investigations on University Outcomes

Joint with Jason Lindo, Dave Marcotte, and Jane Palmer

Work in Progress

Concealed Carry Permits and Crime

Joint with Jennifer Doleac

The Effect of Early Handgun Laws on Homicide and Suicide

Joint with Briggs Depew

Is Interpersonal Violence Contagious? 

Joint with Jason Lindo and Glen Waddell