Evan Soltas
Sep 27, 2014

What I Am Up To

Upperclassmen at Princeton must complete independent research, and Ilyana Kuziemko will be my adviser for junior year. I am still figuring out my research topic, but she focuses on inequality, criminal justice, public health insurance, and education -- so it is likely my topic will be in that general area. I usually do not share updates from my life at Princeton, but in case anyone has suggestions for things I should read or specific areas I might explore, I would very much appreciate it if you could reach out to me.

Update (10/29):

So I am doing research on that classic topic of labor economics: job training programs. It turns out that some questions about job training have been buried in the Basic CPS since 1994 to present and in the March Supplement from 2001 to 2009. I found them.

Using those data, I'll be examining the evolution of these programs since 1994, including the major 1998 reform, how the programs differ by type, and how the programs respond to business cycles.

Since so much work has been done estimating the treatment effects of these programs -- do they reduce unemployment? do they raise wages? -- I'm also going to do some work on another question using data from the American Time Use Survey: What's the elasticity of total search time with respect to participation? That is, do these programs substitute for other search activity, or does participation actually increase search time?

The goal here is to work towards answering the big question of how, not just if, job training programs work in the context of labor market search.

More on this soon.

Update (12/1):

It turns out there are insufficiently many observations of job training program participants in ATUS data (~300 pooled over 2003 to 2013). For what it's worth, which isn't much, my estimates of the elasticity of search time with respect to participation was about 2. That is, participation doubled search time -- depending on the kind of labor market search model in which this is contextualized, I imagine that is sufficient to explain all of the gains in labor market outcomes. Perhaps even more than sufficient, so that one would find that participation is effectively requiring the use of an inferior search technology. Interesting stuff, still, but one needs a bigger survey. If you find this question interesting and have the resources to make such a survey happen, please do reach out.

All this is to say I changed the topic of my research. Doing work now on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program), specifically in the vein of Raj Chetty's 2008 paper on unemployment insurance, illiquidity, and moral hazard.