- "The Value of Certification to Consumers: Evidence from the U.S. Organic Food Market," JMP. (Draft)
- Consumers may not directly perceive some product attributes that are beneficial but costly to produce, giving rise to a lemons problem and potentially inhibiting efficient trade. This paper explores whether third-party certification provides a potential solution to the asymmetric information problem by credibly disclosing these imperceptible attributes. Considering the U.S. food market, this paper finds that consumers are willing to pay between 4 and 116% of a product's price for organic certification. Consistent with the theory that certification provides otherwise unverifiable information, estimates of the willingness to pay across product types covary negatively with the predictability of organic certification using other product characteristics. Results from the counterfactual analysis suggest a decrease in consumer welfare from removing the organic certification program, equivalent to 1.43% of total spending on organic products.
- "Estimating Structural Models with Loose Model Constraints," with Joseph Mullins.
- This paper proposes a method for estimating nonlinear economic models by estimating solution objects, such as dynamic values and decision rules, together with the structural parameters of interest. This is achieved by simultaneously maximizing an estimation criterion and minimizing deviations from the constraints that define the economic model. The estimator is consistent and asymptotically normal under standard conditions, and achieves regular efficiency bounds under appropriate weighting schemes. The method provides a practical alternative to a large class of estimators based on first-stage estimation of endogenous model objects such as choice probabilities (Hotz and Miller, 1993), particularly in cases where direct estimation of these objects is not practically or statistically feasible. Several Monte Carlo studies demonstrate the desirable properties of the method - which offers a trade-off between computational simplicity and statistical precision - in the canonical dynamic discrete choice setting of Rust (1987).
- "Interactions of Public Paratransit and Vocational Rehabilitation," with Christopher M. Clapp and Steven N. Stern, Sept 2020. (SSRN link.)
- Federal and state governments spend over $3 billion annually on public-sector Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) programs, yet almost a third of people with disabilities report having inadequate access to the transportation necessary to commute to a job, potentially negating the positive effects of these interventions. We examine this previously understudied connection by assessing the impact access to public paratransit has on measures of VR program effectiveness. To do so, we use the data and estimates from three previously estimated structural models of VR service receipt and labor market outcomes that contain limited information about mobility. We spatially link the generalized residuals from these models to different measures of the availability and efficiency of local paratransit systems to determine whether paratransit explains any of the residual variation in the short- or long-run labor market outcomes of individuals receiving VR services. Results show that access to paratransit is an important determinant of the efficacy of VR services, but that effects are heterogeneous across disability groups. We discuss the policy implications of our findings for VR programs.