Research and Publications

Current Research
Dissertation: Essays on Transfer-Program Interactions Among Low-Income Households

I examine the effect of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) on food insecurity in US households, utilizing food security information from the Food Security Supplement of the Current Population Study.  Because states adopted the Medicaid expansions provided under the ACA at different times beginning in 2014, the cross-state over time variation allows me to separate out the impact of the ACA on food hardship.  The richness of questions in the Food Security Supplement allows me to examine the effect of the ACA not only across different measures of food hardship, but also the differential impact of the ACA based on participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  I also employ an instrumental variables strategy to address reverse causality between SNAP and food insecurity.  I find that the ACA reduced the probability a household participating in SNAP falls into the two lowest food security categories by 4 percentage points, and reduced the probability of being food insecure by 9 percentage points.  Across specifications, I find strong evidence for increasing returns to program participation, and evidence of a differential impact of the ACA across the distribution of food hardship.

I examine how grant funding and fiscal structure affect program response over the business cycle. I compare child enrollment in Medicaid, a matching grant funding program, with enrollment the State Children's Health Insurance Program, a block grant funded program, utilizing the similarities in beneficiaries, program benefits, and administration to isolate the impact of fiscal structure. I utilize administrative enrollment records, along with individual level participation data, and find a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate leads to an 8% decrease in the number of beneficiaries  per person enrolled in block grant funded programs.  I also find a 10% decrease in state expenditure per person decreases the probability of enrollment in a block grant program by 0.5 percentage points. I show that enrollment is much more persistent among matching grant funded programs, and being enrolled in a block grant funded program last period increases the probability of enrolling in a matching grant program this period 75% more than remaining enrolled in the block grant funded program.

The Minimum Wage and Program Interaction
I examine the impact of the minimum wage on poverty and inequality, with specific attention paid to the interaction of antipoverty programs and the minimum wage. Changes in the minimum wage can drastically alter the program benefits of low-income individuals, obscuring any direct impact from the change itself. I use state level minimum wage data, along with information on program benefits and requirements, to examine how the minimum wage may change these benefit packages, and in turn, how this may complicate findings from the change in the minimum wage itself.

Published Research

Indian Gaming in Oklahoma: Implications for Community Welfare. Nicholas Moellman and Aparna Mitra. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 2013, vol. 45, issue C, pages 64-70.