My research interests include agricultural and resource economics, labor economics, demographic economics, and economic history. I have focused my research on inter-generational occupation choices, farm succession, rural migration, and rural mortality in the US.

Working Papers

In the 1930s, the United States experienced an environmental catastrophe caused by dust storms and drought, known as the Dust Bowl. This paper investigates whether this environmental shock affected occupational persistencewhether children follow in their parents’ footsteps by choosing the same occupationwhen it comes to agriculture. I find that occupational persistence rates decreased by 2% after the Dust Bowl in high-erosion counties compared to low-erosion counties. Children of farmers were 15% less likely to become self-employed farmers and 10% more likely to work as paid farm workers. Furthermore, children who migrated out from Dust Bowl-affected areas were more likely to work off-farm. This study identifies that the structural transformation the US economy underwent over the course of the 20th century may have been helped by the Dust Bowl.

This paper examines the impact of US compulsory education laws on occupational persistence in agriculture. Using the US Decennial Census Data and the Census of Agriculture from 1860 to 1910 and the Difference-in-Difference model, findings indicate a significant 8% reduction in the probability of farm household children becoming farmers. Heterogeneity analysis by gender, birth order, and race indicates that disadvantaged groups were more likely to transition from agricultural to non-agricultural sectors. Concurrently, farm numbers declined while average farm size increased, suggesting farm consolidation. This study shows evidence that US compulsory education laws play a role in accelerating structural transformation.

This paper looks at the relationship between commodity prices and all-cause mortality for the period 1980 to 2016 in 485 counties across 12 Midwestern US states. As outcome variables, we look at both crude and age-adjusted death rates. As treatment variables, we look at the interaction of (i) state-level commodity prices or global commodity price changes for corn and soybeans, the dominant crops in the US Midwest, and (ii) how much of each crop is grown within each county. Our treatment variable thus captures how, for each crop, farm revenues within a given county change in response to changes in commodity prices. For identification, we rely on a two-way, county and time fixed effects strategy as well as on a number of robust panel data estimators. We find that a decrease in commodity prices is associated with increased mortality across all counties, but that this is driven by rural counties. For robustness, we also estimate specifications in which we instrument farm revenues with measures of drought severity, and we conduct a series of falsification tests. Finally, we show that the relationship between commodity prices and rural mortality is driven by cardiovascular disease.


Work in Progress