The Benjamin H. Griswold III, Class of 1933, Center for Economic Policy Studies funds policy-related research projects within Princeton’s Department of Economics. During the academic year, the Griswold Center for Economic Policy Studies (GCEPS) supports the economics policy-related research of several graduate students. Furthermore, these students are named as Graduate Student Fellows of the Center and receive invitations to all of our member events.

Graduate Student Fellows, 2023-2024

Simon Margolin studies the effects of corporate taxation and restructuring on workers using tools from macroeconomics, labor and public finance. Using data from French tax returns, he finds that more than 20 percent of the tax that firms pay on their corporate income is shifted to workers through lower wage growth. He develops a general equilibrium model that provides a better understanding of the consequences of corporate tax changes on wage inequality and the labor share of aggregate income, as well as the main mechanisms at play, notably the reallocation of activity to large, capital-intensive firms. These mechanisms are particularly important for designing optimal corporate tax schemes and understanding their distributional effects. In Margolin’s joint work with Maxime Gravoueille and Thomas Zuber, they analyze the impact of corporate bankruptcies on workers’ earnings and explore the tradeoffs that policy makers face when they design bankruptcy procedures. Governments try to insure firms and workers against temporary shocks but need to let unproductive firms exit so that their resources can be reallocated to more productive activities. The costly process of screening firms’ long-term viability leads judges and governments to provide significant support to most firms during critical periods, as observed during the Covid recession.

Jessica Min currently works on the U.S. health-care system’s contribution to labor inequality using tools from applied microeconomics. In one ongoing project, Min studies whether and when premiums increase following consolidation in the U.S. health insurance industry. Using administrative data from 1999 to 2010, she analyzes 26 mergers between insurers serving extensive networks of local markets, exploiting the sharp change in concentration in markets served by both merging insurers. In a second, related project, she studies the effect of increasing health insurance premiums on labor inequality and domestic outsourcing in the U.S. In past work, Min contributes to the current debate on the effect of tax changes for different income groups on inflation. Min compares states that enact large tax changes to states that do not have personal taxes from 1978 to 2017. Min find tax cuts are inflationary: a 1 percentage point decrease in the state income average tax rate for lower-income groups increases prices by 2.5 percent, while a 1 percentage point decrease for higher-income groups increases prices by 1.5 percent. Despite efforts from several U.S. states to cut taxes to provide relief to households during the latest inflationary episode, her study suggests that tax cuts for average earners are not a suitable instrument to help them weather rising inflationary pressures in the short to medium run.

Graduate Student Fellows, 2022-2023

Rachel Fung studies how significant changes in the welfare system in the 1990s affected fertility of low-income women. She finds that as the reform stripped the entitlement status of benefits, women at higher risk of using welfare experienced larger declines in births. Moreover, this effect is larger for women in states with more generous pre-reform benefits, suggesting that the declining fertility was indeed driven by the reform. Importantly, the fertility declines occur before the reform was implemented across the country, and appear not to be driven by state-level policy changes but broader anticipatory effects. This reconciles the results with the literature, which compares births before and after policy implementation dates, and find little evidence of fertility effects. These findings have implications for current debates on reinstituting unconditional cash benefits through the Child Tax Credit. Fung also studies how migration policies for Filipino women working overseas as domestic workers affect their employment opportunities, and subsequently the effect that has on women remaining in the Philippines. In her joint work with Jessica Min, they study whether and how mandatory sex education affects teenage pregnancies in the U.S.

Jordan Richmond analyzes the fundamental economic mechanisms that determine firm and worker behavior and focuses on translating lessons from this work into actionable insights that can improve tax policy. As a member of the Joint Statistical Research Program at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Richmond collaborates with researchers and policymakers at the IRS and in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In one ongoing project, Richmond analyzes how firms would respond to a tax on financial statement income, a recent proposal aimed at ensuring large, profitable corporations pay some taxes. In another ongoing project, Richmond explores the impacts of a tax policy change that limits the amount of interest expense firms can deduct, raising the cost of capital for high debt firms. In a third project, he models the role that tax losses play in targeting fiscal stimulus.

Haonan Zhou‘s current and past research focus on the shifting paradigm of international capital flows and transmission of shocks from core, advanced countries to emerging and developing economies. Based on detailed empirical analyses using novel micro- and macro-level data, he designs analytical and quantitative models to study the impact of government policy. In ongoing research, he studies the foreign investor base of emerging market sovereign bond and find that foreign investors sort into bonds of different characteristics based on institutional constraints. He is in the process of formally characterizing the tradeoff of emerging market governments’ issuance policy using a model of sovereign borrowing with heterogeneous investors. In another project, he studies the interaction between foreign shocks and wealth inequality, and how policies that curb vulnerable households’ exposure to foreign shocks could stabilize the economy. Zhou’s research has attracted policy interest, with presentations at major central banks and policy institutions, including ECB, BIS, IMF, Central Bank of Uruguay and Central Bank of Colombia.

Graduate Student Fellows, 2021-2022

Rachel Anderson studies the impact of energy market design on the economic efficiency of subsidies for utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) in the United States. Between 2008 and 2019, United States solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity generating capacity grew from less than one gigawatt to over 58 gigawatts, contributing over 2 percent of the total electricity generation. This growth was supported by uniform federal subsidies; however, differences in regional solar adoption rates that are uncorrelated with a location’s solar electricity potential, emphasize the importance of state policies supporting in-state solar energy development. Furthermore, differences in the timing of solar PV adoption between competitive and regulated electricity markets suggest that the efficiency of federal renewable energy tax credits depends upon a state’s electricity market structure. Together, these findings suggest that cost-effective renewable energy policies should combine subsidies with regulatory policies to reduce investment risk.

Francisco Cabezon studies the optimal design of pension systems. In his work “On the Generosity and Funding of Old Age Social Security,” Cabezon borrows pension models from the optimal tax literature to identify key behavioral responses that define the social welfare implications of a pension system reform. In particular, Cabezon identifies three key elasticities that are relevant for a pension system funded through labor income. Cabezon then uses Chilean administrative data, policy variation, and exposure to market returns of pension savings during the 2008 financial crisis to estimate these behavioral responses. In addition to these elasticities, Cabezon uses “Life-cycle income dynamics” techniques to assess the inequality on life-cycle earnings and surveys to measure social preferences for redistribution. Finally, with all these components, Cabezon makes statements about an optimal pension system.

Kwok-Hao Lee explores how public housing can be allocated more efficiently and equitably, comparing market design interventions to subsidies and changing the mix of apartments available. “Market design, subsidies and supply composition: Interventions for efficient and equitable public housing” (with co-authors Andrew Ferdowsian and Luther Yap) utilizes tools from Urban Economics and Industrial Organization to formulate a dynamic choice model over housing lotteries. After estimating their model on novel public housing data from the Singaporean mechanism, they simulate wait times for households applying for apartments under various counterfactual mechanisms. They find that, to lower wait times for the poor, market design interventions can be effective. However, match rates for the poor are highest when they receive more direct subsidies, even if these subsidies are funded by raising prices on larger apartments. Finally, if the public housing authority can neither screen households by income nor disburse subsidies, adjusting the housing mix may be the only option to reduce wait times and raise match rates for the poor.

Daniel Morrison examines whether firms benefit from donating to US political campaigns in his paper: “Disentangling the Motivations for Campaign Contributions: Corruption or Policy Alignment.” Firms that contributed to a member of Congress experienced negative returns following scandals that led to the connected politician’s resignation. This effect was present for politicians representing swing districts, where scandals are more likely to lead to changes in party representation, but not in safe districts. Additionally, the effect increases in the degree of policy alignment between firm and politician. Finally, non-connected firms that share policy goals with the connected firm experienced similar return shocks following the scandal. Together, this evidence suggests that campaign contributions do not foster favoritism, but instead reflect that firms endogenously contribute to candidates whose political viewpoints match their own.

Graduate Student Fellows, 2020-2021

Thomas Kroen studies banking and capital market regulation as well as macro-finance. In his paper, “Payout Restrictions and Bank Risk-Shifting,” he studies the effects of limiting bank dividends and share buybacks during the 2020 Covid crisis. He finds that bank debt holders benefit from these policies whereas equity values fall, suggesting that limiting payouts shifts risk from debt holders onto shareholders. Moreover, restricting payouts to shareholders influences risk-taking decisions within banks. When the restrictions are lifted, banks grow their risky lending substantially more than their safe lending. Finally, he shows that payout restrictions reduce the likelihood of banks needing to be bailed out by the public sector and quantifies the expected savings for the US. In further work, he studies the effects of liberalizing share buybacks and the macroeconomic consequences of the low interest rate environment.

Victoria Larsen’s research focuses on the impact of substance abuse treatment on health outcomes in the United States. Her current project links data on treatment facilities to health insurance claims, analyzing the effect of types of treatment on future health outcomes, such as relapse and overdose. She is particularly interested in the impact of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) which is used to treat opioid-use disorders. MAT has become substantially more available due to changes in regulation throughout the United States in the past decade, with 45% of facilities offering some MAT in 2019 compared to 22% in 2010. This project also considers related questions, such as what factors are important when a patient is choosing which type of treatment to get, such as prices and distance to facilities.

Christopher Mills’ research focuses on the economic analysis of child welfare, and he is passionate about using linked administrative data to study the causal effects of child welfare interventions on child and family wellbeing. His research interests include human capital formation in foster care, foster parent labor supply, and expert decision-making. In “Safe from Harm? Peer Effects and Criminal Capital Formation in Foster Care” (with co-author Sarah Font), Mills leverages machine learning techniques and exogenous variation in foster care peers to study how peer composition affects children’s future criminality and risky behaviors, finding that peer influence is not a significant determinant of youth outcomes. In “More Money, Fewer Problems? The Effect of Foster Care Payments on Children’s Placement, Health Care Utilization, and Quality of Care” (with co-author Anna Chorniy), Mills shows that raising payments to foster families has surprisingly negligible effects on foster parent labor supply and child wellbeing, suggesting that foster care payments are not a cost-effective tool for improving children’s living conditions. Mills is currently evaluating the potential for algorithmic tools to improve the efficiency and equity of child welfare decisions.

Yinuo Zhang studies inequality in developed economies, and how the increasing earning inequality in the upper tail could have contributed to the wage and employment gain in the lower tail of the earning inequality distribution. Her mechanism hinges on two key empirical facts: Market-produced home production services are provided more efficiently than performing similar services at home; and high-earning individuals naturally face higher opportunity costs for doing home production. As a result, consumption spillovers from the upper percentile of the earning distribution are particularly in favor of the home service occupations which have relatively low requirements of general education levels. Zhang examines the effect of online service-providing platforms on earning inequality at the lower distribution. Her goal is to estimate how online platforms could provide more job opportunities for low-skilled individuals in urban areas and develop policy insights on whether the government should lift more regulation restrictions on the operation of online platforms..

  • Simon Margolin, 2023-2024
  • Jessica Min, 2023-2024
  • Rachel Fung, 2022-2023
  • Jordan Richmond, 2022-2023
  • Haonan Zhou, 2022-2023
  • Rachel Anderson, 2021-2022
  • Francisco Cabezon, 2021-2022
  • Kwok-Hao Lee, 2021-2022
  • Daniel Morrison, 2021-2022
  • Thomas Kroen, 2020-2021
  • Victoria Larsen, 2020-2021
  • Christopher Mills, 2020-2021
  • Yinuo Zhang, 2020-2021
  • Cavit Baran, 2019-2020
  • Riccardo Cioffi, 2019-2020
  • Jonathan Gao, 2019-2020
  • Simon Schmickler, 2019-2020
  • Joshua Bernstein, 2018-2019
  • Charis Katsiardis, 2018-2019
  • Mauricio Matsumoto, 2018-2019
  • Franz Ostrizek, 2018-2019
  • Hannah Rubinton, 2018-2019
  • Michael Dobrew, 2017-2018
  • Kazushige Matsuda, 2017-2018
  • Fernando Mendo, 2017-2018
  • Julius Vutz, 2017-2018
  • Ioannis Branikas, 2016-2017
  • Shoumitro Chatterjee, 2016-2017
  • Dmitry Mukhin, 2016-2017
  • Cristian Alonso, 2015-2016
  • Fernanda Marquez, 2015-2016
  • Ishita Rajani, 2015-2016
  • Pedro Olea, 2014-2015
  • David Slusky, 2014-2015
  • Gabriel Tenorio, 2014-15
  • Cheng Chen, 2013-2014
  • Thomas Winberry, 2013-2014
  • Eliav Danziger, 2012-2013
  • Josephine Duh, 2012-2013
  • Diogo Guillen, 2012-2013
  • Sungmun Choi, 2011-2012
  • Penka Kovacheva, 2011-2012
  • Edouard Schaal, 2010-2011
  • Jade Vichyanond, 2009-2010