Working Papers

  • Sorting for K-Street: Post-Employment Regulations and Wage Setting in Congress
    Conditionally Accepted at Journal of Politics
    Abstract: While post-employment regulations are a common tool to slow the revolving door in government, little is known about their effectiveness and consequences. Using the 2007 Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA), I argue that policymakers strategically adjust their behaviors to maintain lucrative career options in the lobbying industry. HLOGA prohibited staffers-turned-lobbyists who earn at least 75% of a Congress member's salary from contacting their ex-employers in Congress for one year. Using data on the complete set of congressional staff (2001-2016), I show that staffers sort below the salary threshold post-HLOGA. Employing various panel data analyses, I also find that selecting out of the regulation increases a staffer's probability to become a lobbyist and ensures a substantial premium in revenues at the beginning of their lobbying career. These results explain why reforms of the revolving door fail and provide insights on institutional determinants of career incentives for non-elected public officials.

  • Political Power of Bureaucratic Agents: Evidence from Policing in New York City
    Job Market Paper
    Abstract: To what extent can bureaucrats manipulate public service provision for explicitly political ends? A growing body of work highlights the immense ability of bureaucrats to influence governments through campaign contributions, endorsements, collective bargaining, and organized election turnout. I explore a more fundamental mechanism of bureaucratic influence: bureaucrats strategically shirking responsibilities. Politicians depend on bureaucrats to achieve policy goals. This gives the latter leverage over the former. If bureaucrats deviate in their preferences from politicians and are organized in cohesive unions with strong tenure protections, they can collectively reduce effort to exert political pressure. I use data on New York Police Department (NYPD) 911 response times together with council members' preferences on the FY2021 $1 billion cut to the NYPD's budget. Employing difference-in-differences and spatial difference-in-discontinuities designs, I find that police reduced effort in districts of non-aligned politicians by slowing response times. This study informs the theoretical debate on principal-agent relationships in government and highlights the importance of organized political interests to explain policing in US cities.

  • Multilanguage Word Embeddings for Social Scientists: Estimation, Inference and Validation Resources for 157 Languages
    with Pedro L. Rodriguez, Arthur Spirling, and Brandon M. Stewart
    R&R at Political Analysis
    Abstract: Word embeddings are now a vital resource for social science research. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to obtain high quality embeddings for non-English languages, and it may be computational expensive to do so. In addition, social scientists typically want to make statistical comparisons and do hypothesis tests on embeddings, but this is non-trivial with current approaches. We provide three new data resources designed to ameliorate the union of these issues: (1) a new version of fastText model embeddings, fit to Wikipedia corpora; (2) a multi-language "a la carte" (ALC) embedding version of the fastText model fit to Wikipedia corpora; (3) a multi-language ALC embedding version of the well-known GloVe model fit to Wikipedia corpora. These materials are aimed at "low resource" users who lack access to large corpora in their language of interest, or who lack access to the computational resources required to produce high-quality vector representations. We make these resources available for 30 languages, along with a code pipeline for another 127 languages available from Wikipedia corpora. We provide extensive validation of the materials, via reconstruction tests and some translation proofs-of-concept. We also conduct and report on human crowdworker tests, for our embeddings for Arabic, French, (traditional, Mandarin) Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish.

Works in Progress

  • Politicized Meritocracy: Determinants of Partisan and Racial Selection in US City Governments
    Abstract: A rich body of research emphasizes the importance of a representative government for policymaking and public service provision. Yet, recent work on the composition of US bureaucracies reveals significant gaps in the descriptive representation of partisan and racial groups in government and their consequences for service delivery. What drives partisan and racial selection in professionalized bureaucracies? Focusing on selection in New York City's government, this project addresses the question in three steps. First, I use detailed administrative data on the characteristics of city employees, including their partisanship, race, and gender, to illustrate the representational gaps between local bureaucrats and their constituents. Second, I focus on the New York Police Department (NYPD) and unpack the dynamics of partisan and racial misrepresentation. I find that Republican and white employees are more likely to be hired, promoted, appointed to senior ranks, receive more departmental awards, and have longer tenure than non-white and Democratic officers. Third, I show that the murder of George Floyd substantially increased turnover at the NYPD and affected the racial and partisan composition of police on the margins. By delineating the complexities of selection in modern bureaucracies, this study provides new evidence about how independent, professional bureaucracies are politicized endogenously.

  • Bureaucratic Sabotage and Policy Inefficiency
    with Kun Heo
    Abstract: Poor public service provision creates an electoral vulnerability for politicians. Under what conditions can bureaucrats exploit this to avoid reforms they dislike? While anecdotal evidence suggests that reform endeavors often falter due to a unique resistance from local government employees, the underlying dynamics and determinants of bureaucratic resistance remain unexplored. We provide a formal model of bureaucratic resistance to show how electoral incentives motivate bureaucrats to sabotage policy, affect voters' evaluation of policy, and influence politicians' choices. We study a two-period costly signaling game with information constraints involving an incumbent, a challenger, a bureaucrat, and a voter. The incumbent seeks re-election by deciding between a reform policy of uncertain value and the status quo and is confronted by an anti-reform bureaucrat and a challenger. Since the voter is uncertain about whom to blame for poor government services, bureaucrats can use costly shirking to affect service quality and thus damage politicians' election prospects. We find that in equilibrium, incumbents implement reform, and bureaucrats sabotage the policy's reputation with positive probability. Depending on the popularity of the status quo, the possibility of sabotage incentivizes incumbents to pander, resulting in two types of policy inefficiency. If the status quo is popular, sabotage induces incumbents to choose the status quo even though reform is better for voter welfare (underinvestment). If the status quo is unpopular, in contrast, sabotage incentivizes politicians to choose reform even though the status quo is preferable for the voter (overinvestment). Thus, bureaucratic sabotage can both harm and help incumbents who enact reforms by affecting the voter's inference on the desirability of the policy.

  • Fiscal Crisis and Gender Pay Gap in the Bureaucracy
    with Hye Young You and Kyuwon Lee
    Abstract: How does a fiscal crisis change the gender pay gap in a bureaucracy? To answer this question, we exploit the sudden budget crisis in Massachusetts (MA) in 2015 and examine how methods that governments employ to downsize their agencies - increasing senior officials' discretion in setting compensation and adopting individualized negotiations - have unequal impacts on government employees. Using 1.4 million observations of detailed individual-level data about public employees in the MA state government for the period 2010-2020, we find that the fiscal crisis increased the gender pay gap in executive agencies by 2.4 percentage points. Consequently, women earned significantly less than their comparable male counter-parts after the fiscal crisis. We also find that there is significant variation in the gender pay gap: women in more senior positions and women who work in agencies with smaller shares of female employees (public safety and transportation) experienced the largest gender pay gap.


  • The Revolving Door for Political Elites: Policymakers' Professional Background and Financial Regulation
    EBRD Working Paper

  • Daylight saving all year round? Evidence from a national experiment
    with Cagatay Bircan, Energy Economics (2023)

  • Skills, employment and automation
    with Cevat Giray Aksoy, Yvonne Giesing and Nadzeya Laurentsyeva, 2018/19 EBRD Transition Report