These are papers that are currently at different stages of preparation.
The Racial Gap During the Punitive Turn
American public opinion about criminal justice institutions is rent with racial cleavages. This paper marshals new data to describe this gap in more detail than hitherto possible, and to answer some puzzles about its causes. I accumulate almost 300,000 responses to three dozen questions asked in 125 separate nationally-representative surveys administered since 1965 (across Gallup polls, a variety of TV and newspaper polls, the GSS, and the ANES). I use multilevel models to estimate opinion in three dimensions (punitiveness, mistrust, and anxiety), accounting for respondent- and question-level idiosyncrasies. I use these models to describe race-specific and aggregate trends in each dimension, and then ask two questions. (1) How much of the black-white gap can be explained by differential exposure to incarceration and crime? Results vary by dimension. Some of the punitiveness gap is explained by exposure to incarceration, but, controlling for exposure, the mistrust gap actually increases. I supplement these results with evidence from an online experiment, which affirms the shaping effect of risk on opinion. (2) How does question framing affect punitiveness? I show that questions with alternatives elicit less punitive answers, and support this with results from another online experiment. Among other things, both findings help describe the bind in which African Americans find themselves: mistrustful of the only institutions that can protect them from crime.
The Labor Market Consequences of Mass Incarceration, with John Clegg and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa
In theory, mass incarceration has dueling consequences on low-wage labor markets. On the one hand, it marks those who pass through jails and prisons with criminal stigma, which might suggest that it would depress labor market outcomes for a significant share of minority males. On the other hand, by removing a share of low-skill working-age males from the labor force, it may improve the wages and employment prospects of those outside. In this paper, we exploit a new dataset of sub-state incarceration rates and propose a strategy to identify the causal impact of incarceration on labor market outcomes at the commuting-zone level.
Mobilization and the Masses: The Impact of Protest on Public Opinion, with Mohammad Ali Kadivar
We know that mass mobilization has profound consequences on political and economic institutions, but we know only a little about its consequences on the populations it mobilizes. We suspect that past work has underestimated the impact of mobilization by focusing mostly on its immediate consequences on existing institutions and ignoring its enduring impact on generations who come of age amidst mobilizations. We combine two datasets on popular mobilizations in the 20th century with several hundred thousand responses to public opinion polls across dozens of countries to estimate the impact of mobilization on public opinion in a variety of issue domains.
The Political Economy of American Mass Incarceration, with John Clegg
In the 19th century, America incarcerated fewer people than comparable nations. The US caught up in the 20th century as it industrialized, but the relationship was not straightforward. America followed a peculiar path of proletarianization in which mass rural-urban migration was delayed by the power of the Southern planter class. When the South was finally modernized by the New Deal, African Americans migrated to Northern cities in search of industrial jobs. However, those jobs that existed were soon lost to mechanization and capital flight, whilst white flight undermined urban revenues, resulting in patterns of concentrated poverty and crime that were exceptional, and which remain distinctly visible today. The retreat of the Johnson-era War on Poverty programs sealed America’s carceral fate. Local and state administrations managed violence on the cheap, with police and prisons, rather than at its root, with programs to address concentrated disadvantage.