Research

Job market paper

Regulation Attenuation: Neighbor Spillovers and Policies in the Opioid Epidemic

Abstract: Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)online systems that health care providers and pharmacists can use to query patient prescription recordsare one of the most widely-used state tools in regulating the prescribing and dispensing of opioids. However, the staggered adoption of PDMPs over time has created opportunities for patients to evade monitoring by going to a state that does not have a PDMP. This paper evaluates how spillovers attributable to policy non-coordination between neighboring states impact the effectiveness of PDMPs. I find that after prescribers gain access to PDMPs, opioid volume and prescription opioid deaths decrease in counties with a PDMP that are insulated from opportunities for evasion. I find a similar effect in counties with a PDMP that are exposed to evasion. This suggests that exposure to evasion through proximity to non-PDMP areas does not significantly attenuate the policy effect. I also find evidence that opioid volume and prescription opioid deaths decrease in counties without a PDMP that are exposed to spillovers from counties with the policy. Illicit opioid deaths are not affected in any counties with a PDMP but decrease in counties without a PDMP that are exposed to spillovers. I discuss the potential mechanisms through which spillovers may operate.

Publications

What Can UWE Do for Economics? with Claudia Goldin. AEA Papers and Proceedings. 2018;108 : 186-190.

Abstract: Men outnumber women as undergraduate economics majors by three to one nationwide. Even at the best research universities and liberal arts colleges men outnumber women by two to one or more. The Undergraduate Women in Economics Challenge was begun in 2015 as an RCT with 20 treatment schools and at least 30 control schools to evaluate whether better course information, mentoring, encouragement, career counseling, and more relevant instructional content could move the needle. Although the RCT is still in the field, results from several within treatment-school randomized trials demonstrate that uncomplicated and inexpensive interventions can substantially increase the interest of women to major in economics.

Work in progress

Nudging Providers to Curtail Dangerous Opioid Prescribing: A Trial to Investigate Mechanisms with Mireille Jacobson, Weston Merrick, David Powell, Adam Sacarny, and Ian Williamson.

Abstract: Nearly all states have Prescription Monitoring Programs (PMPs) to facilitate safer prescribing of opioids and other drugs, but research suggests that these systems only deliver benefits when health care professionals are required to use them. Even with PMP mandates in place, providers may be unaware of the dangers of co-prescribing opioids with benzodiazepines or gabapentinoids, which include increased risk of overdose and death. We conduct a randomized clinical trial of 12,000 prescribers in Minnesota whose patients had filled an opioid prescription and either a benzodiazepine or gabapentinoid prescription in the four months prior to randomization. Prescribers received an initial and follow-up letter highlighting either 1) a new PMP use requirement, 2) a list of up to five patients with opioid co-prescriptions, 3) both the PMP use requirement and the patient co-prescription list or 4) control (no letters). Using administrative data, we track effects of the letters on prescriptions and PMP usage and queries. Results will inform future work by state and local policymakers to make opioid prescribing safer.

Impact of New Curriculum for Introductory Economics Courses on Student Opinions and Economic Knowledge with Rena Rosenberg and Sarah Thomas.

Abstract: Curriculum Open-access Resources for Economics (CORE) is an alternative curriculum to teach introductory economics. The goal of the CORE USA Project is to expand student reach and to inspire a more diverse student body to pursue economics long-term by making course content more relevant and accessible. We conduct two confidential surveys with students enrolled in spring 2020 introductory economics courses at Columbia University and Barnard College. The two surveys, conducted at the start and end of the semester, ask students about their reasons for enrolling in the course, their interest in the field of economics and career aspirations, and their opinions about markets and traits important for success as an economist. The surveys also assess their knowledge of economic concepts and data literacy. We compare responses for student enrolled in courses that use CORE to those of students enrolled in courses that follow a more traditional curriculum. We complement our quantitative research with qualitative findings from focus groups conducted in spring 2020 and spring 2021.

Income Shocks and Consumer Response: Evidence from the 2018-19 US Government Shutdown. [SRB Seminar slides.]

Abstract: The US federal government shutdown for 35 days from December 2018 to January 2019, the longest shutdown in the country's history. The shutdown caused a disruption in the administration of several federal benefit programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The disruption resulted in a positive liquidity shock to SNAP beneficiaries, who received some benefits earlier than scheduled. While providing slack in how beneficiaries could spend other income, the disruption potentially exacerbated the "end-of-cycle gap" that occurs when benefits run out before the end of the month. Using Nielsen Consumer Panel data, I study how consumption of SNAP-eligible goods responds to the positive liquidity shock in areas with low share vs. high share of SNAP beneficiaries.

Patient Cost Sharing and Prescription Drug Trends: Evidence from Japan. [Draft available upon request.]

Abstract: This paper studies the impact of a change in patient cost sharing on total prescription drug spending. I exploit a feature of the Japanese health care system, where an individual’s coinsurance rate is determined primarily by their age. I contribute to the existing literature by investigating heterogeneous effects by patient sex and drug therapeutic class (focusing on cardiovascular drugs, antibiotics, vitamins, antihistamines, and psychotropic drugs). I find that for the whole sample, price elasticity for spending ranges from —0.12 to —0.23. This is comparable to previous estimates of price elasticity of spending for general medical services (—0.2). I find no evidence of heterogeneous effects by sex over the whole sample of prescriptions, but I do find statistically significant differences between women and men within therapeutic drug classes. I also conduct exploratory analysis on the effect of changes in patient cost sharing on the volume of prescriptions. I estimate a price elasticity of demand between —0.33 and —0.69, which is larger than previous estimates of demand elasticity for general medical services (—0.16 to —0.2). I also find evidence that physicians do not respond on the intensive margin by prescribing more expensive medications. Although Japanese patients are more likely to be prescribed brand-name drugs, patients on generics may be more price sensitive to changes in patient cost sharing. Overall, the findings suggest that physicians respond by prescribing a greater quantity of medications, either on the extensive or the intensive margin.

Hospital Implementation of Work-Life Balance Programs and Nurse Stress, Work-Family Conflict, and Work Satisfaction in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Abstract: The high nurse turnover rate is an acute issue for Japan's health care system. In the recent decades, the government has promoted the Child Care and Family Care Leave Law and the work-life balance (WLB) programs outlined in it as tools to alleviate workplace stress and retain workers. I conduct a cross-sectional study of hospitals and nurses in Ibaraki Prefecture to learn about the implementation of the WLB programs and factors associated with nurse stress and work satisfaction. I design and run two surveys: a survey of all hospitals in the prefecture and a follow-up survey of nurses at six of these hospitals. I do not find a strong association between the nurse turnover rate and WLB program implementation, WLB program use, or the prioritization of nurse WLB in the workplace. I do find that hospitals that place a higher priority on nurses' WLB are more likely to implement certain types of WLB programs and to report nurses using them. The nurse survey identifies correlated sources of stress for nurses. I also find that greater social support from supervisors and coworkers is strongly correlated with fewer workplace conflicts as well as lower scores on various stress measures.

This study was conducted as part of the 2013-14 Fulbright Program.