JOB MARKET PAPER: Anti-Black Hate Crimes and Black-White Health Gap

In 2019, hate crimes reported in the United States rose to the highest level in a decade. High exposure to race-motivated violence may induce psychological stress among Black individuals, contributing to racial disparities in health. In this paper, I conduct two separate yet complementary studies that document the adverse effects of anti-Black hate crimes on the health outcomes of Black infants and adults. First, I leverage a rich data set consisting of all nationwide birth records from the National Center for Health Statistics to show that in utero exposure to local anti-Black aggravated assaults is associated with lower birth weights and shorter gestation lengths among Black infants. These effects are substantial. For Black infants, exposure to eleven or more anti-Black aggravated assaults during gestation is linked to an over 70 gram decrease in birth weight. Second, using restricted-access Emergency Department Data from the California Department of Health Care Access and Information, I find a nearly 50% increase, relative to the mean, in the volume of chest pain-related Emergency Department visits among Black adults on the day of an anti-Black aggravated assault in their area of residence. In contrast to these results, I report that the effects on White infants and adults are negligible in magnitude and largely insignificant. Taken together, this suggests that stress associated with exposure to local anti-Black hate crimes may be a contributor to the racial health disparities present in the United States.

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Gunshot Noise and Birth Outcomes (joint work with Michael Topper)

Gun violence is ubiquitous across the United States, with gun-related deaths reaching an all-time high in 2021. The prevalence of gunfire results in loud and potentially stress-inducing sounds, which may adversely affect critical stages of in-utero development. However, gunfire is largely unreported, creating a unique challenge for researchers to understand its consequences. In this paper, we mitigate this shortcoming by leveraging data from ShotSpotter—an acoustic gunshot technology which uses an array of sensors placed on city structures to detect the sound of gunfire. We combine this unique data source with the universe of births in a large California city over a four-year period (2016-2020), each matched to a mother’s residence. Using the variation in gunfire detections from ShotSpotter at the census-block level, we employ a difference-in-differences methodology and find that gunshot noise creates substantial decreases in gestation lengths, resulting in an increase in preterm deliveries. These effects are driven entirely by times of the day when civilians are awake, and are particularly concentrated among mothers with low levels of education. These results suggest that gunshot noise is a major factor contributing to the income inequities in pregnancy outcomes.

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Leaderboards and Student Study Plans: Evidence from a Field Experiment (joint work with Dingyue Liu, Ruth Morales, and Caroline Zhang)

Procrastination is a common occurrence in everyday life, particularly among students. In this paper, we explore the implementation of a gamified leaderboard within an undergraduate economics course to assess its impact on class engagement and procrastination reduction. The leaderboard is integrated within weekly online assignments, auto-graded using an AI-assisted platform. Students achieving a full score and submitting their work earlier are ranked higher on the leaderboard. Our preliminary results suggest that the treated group, i.e., the group exposed to the leaderboard, spends significantly less time on assignments and exhibits earlier completion times relative to the control group. i.e., the group not exposed to the leaderboard. This points to the positive influence of gamified leaderboards on reducing procrastination tendencies and motivating students to complete tasks earlier.