Job Market Paper

Death Investigation Systems, Coroner Partisanship and Reported COVID-19 Mortality

Abstract: The politicization of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has raised questions about the integrity and accuracy of death reporting, particularly in jurisdictions with elected, partisan coroners. Using mortality data from the CDC and manually collected data on county-level death certification systems and coroner party affiliation where applicable, I examine the parallel systems of appointed medical examiners and elected coroners and investigate the effect of partisanship on reported COVID-19 deaths. Cross-sectional comparisons do not seem to suggest counties with coroners report fewer deaths than those with medical examiners, and difference-in-differences specifications reveal limited evidence of a statistically significant but not economically meaningful effect of partisanship on reported COVID death counts.

Other Research

Lead Pipe Information and Housing Prices: An Analysis in Washington, DC

Abstract: In 2016, the Water and Sewer Authority of Washington, DC released an online map that contains information on lead service lines (LSLs) for all properties in the district. Using the release as a natural experiment, this paper estimates the effect of the new information on prices of properties with and without LSLs. Recent literature has found that housing lead reduction policies such as remediation mandates have significant price effects. In DC, while the map’s release was followed by a marked increase in requests for water lead tests, neither a difference-in-differences model nor a repeat sales model captures a significant divergence between housing prices of the two types of properties after the release, implying the housing market response to the information was limited.

Marriage Penalty and the Decision to Marry: Same-Sex Couples After United States v. Windsor

Abstract: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on United States v. Windsor in June 2013 compelled the federal government to recognize state-sanctioned same-sex marriages, including for tax purposes. The switch in the income tax filing status for same-sex couples meant that the marriage penalty or subsidy as a result of joint filing became a relevant factor that may enter couples’ marriage decisions. I construct a sample of married and cohabiting same-sex couples in 2012 and 2014 from public-use data of the American Community Survey. Using a difference-in-differences methodology, I do not find evidence that same-sex couples who would earn a higher marriage subsidy became more likely to marry after the Supreme Court ruling.