Determinants of Public Opinion on the Death Penalty (Job Market Paper)

Abstract: In this paper, I examine several factors that affect public sentiment on the death penalty, including individual characteristics as well as state-level measures of exonerations, executions, and botched executions. Using comprehensive data from the General Social Survey, the National Registry of Exonerations, and the Death Penalty Information Center, I find that exonerations significantly decrease the probability of supporting the death penalty by three to four percent from the average level. Nonetheless, neither executions nor botched executions seem to have an impact. I also investigate if there are significant changes in the criminal justice system associated with having more exonerations and find that they decrease the number of death sentences.

Benefit Generosity and Injury Duration: Evidence from Regression Kinks (with Benjamin Hansen and Glen Waddell)

Abstract: We investigate the effect of benefit generosity on claim duration and temporary benefits paid among temporary disability claims for workers' compensation. While previous studies have focused on natural experiments created by one-time large changes in minimum or maximum weekly benefits, we exploit variation around a kink in benefit generosity inherent in all workers' compensation systems in the United States. Using administrative data on the universe of injured workers in Oregon, we find that more-generous benefits leads to longer injuries, but with implied elasticities that are smaller than the average elasticity from previous difference-in-difference studies. Our preferred estimates suggest that a 10-percent increase in benefit generosity leads to a 2- to 4-percent increase in injury duration. We derive similar duration-benefit elasticities when studying changes in benefits paid at the kink.

Do Mental Health Insurance Laws Reduce Crime?

Abstract: This paper examines the effect of state laws requiring insurers to provide some level of mental health insurance on the rates of violent and property crime. While previous studies have considered the relationship between mental health and crime and the impact of insurance mandates on health outcomes, this paper is the first to connect state mandates to crime rates. Using a difference-in-differences approach with state-level data from 1990 to 2004, I find that insurance mandates significantly lower crime rates. Specifically, states that require insurers to offer mental health insurance plans with the same coverage as physical health insurance plans observe an 8 to 10 percent reduction in violent crime relative to states with no mental health insurance mandate. Nonetheless, the results exhibits considerable sensitivity to the classification of mandates.


Effects of Community Uninsurance on Health Care Quality for the Insured (with Jeffrey DeSimone)

Interlock Ignition Laws and Alcohol-Related Behavior (with Jeffrey DeSimone)

Alcohol, Firearm Access, and Suicides (with Benjamin Hansen)