These are papers that I have drafted, which will soon be submitted to academic journals for consideration. If you are interested in reading them, please email me.
The Rise and Fall of Labor
Why are labor unions no longer the force they once were? And why are they weaker in late developers than at analogous moments in the history of the advanced world? To answer these questions, I marshal new data from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, outline a better measure of workers' disruptive capacity, propose a strategy to identify the causal impact of capacity on unionization, and employ counterfactuals to gauge the significance of my estimates. In panel regressions I reproduce the consensus view that structural and institutional facts explain unionization, but in counterfactuals I show the greater power of the structural explanation. The loss of disruptive capacity explains much or even most of labor's rise and fall in the advanced world, and the capacity-sapping consequences of late development explain most or all of the gap between early and late developers.
The Racial Politics of the Punitive Turn, with John Clegg
Some argue that America's punitive turn has its origins in a white-led reaction to the Civil Rights movement. While past evidence for this view is considerable, it has weaknesses: it is mostly correlational, key concepts are poorly measured, and conclusions are often derived from untested extrapolations. In this paper we gather new data which show little support for the conventional view. Public opinion data show that the black and not just white public became more punitive after the 1960s. Voting data from the House show that most black politicians voted for key punitive bills at the height of concern about crime. And an analysis of federally-mandated redistricting suggests that black political representation had a punitive impact on state-level imprisonment and policing. Together, our evidence supports a revisionist view which emphasizes that crime shaped black preferences. We argue that standard approaches have flattened these preferences by considering attitudes towards prisons and police in isolation from attitudes towards the root causes of violence.
Job Loss and Incarceration: Local Effects of a Natural Experiment, with John Clegg and Jacob Kang-Brown
Existing work has failed to find much evidence that the deterioration of labor markets increases incarceration, despite several reasons to expect such a relationship. We note that prior estimates have been muddied by the absence of sub-state data, the focus on prisons to the exclusion of jails, and by the fact that the health of the labor market is endogenous to incarceration. We instrument for labor market exposure to the rise of Chinese exports to estimate the effect of deteriorating labor markets on American incarceration. Marshaling an original dataset of state prisoners and jail inmates at the commuting zone level, we show that shocks to labor markets have significant effects on incarceration. This estimate is invisible to conventional OLS, which may help explain null results reported by past work. Moreover, counterfactual exercises suggest that this effect is punitively very consequential.