Working Papers

Selling Representation: The Effect of Out-of-District Donations on Candidate Positioning (Job Market Paper) (Draft)

The United States House of Representatives is intended to be the locally representative body of federal government.  While only district residents are eligible to vote, residents of the entire country can donate to any candidate.  This paper explores how much the pursuit of money from ideologically extreme donors explains candidates' deviations from representing their constituents.  I estimate a structural model of a candidate's ideology choice in which candidates care about winning, which tends to pull them to the ideological center, and fundraising, which tends to pull them to the ideological extremes.  A counterfactual prohibiting out-of-district giving results in the average congressperson choosing an ideology that is twenty percent closer to their district's median voter. 

Recovering Voice: Is Out-of-District Giving a Substitute for Local Political Participation?  (Three-minute version) (Draft)

A growing share of U.S. citizens live in electorally lopsided congressional districts, which may depress their political participation.  While citizens can only vote in their districts' elections, they may donate to candidates anywhere in the country, raising the question of whether individuals disengaged by their electorally lopsided districts find voice through greater non-local giving.  I use the post-2010 congressional redistricting that exogenously reassigned individuals to more, or less, competitive districts to explore this directly.  When an individual's district becomes less competitive, she  donates less to her district's House candidates and more to out-of-district candidates.  Hence, givers regard local and non-local giving as substitutes: a dollar reduction in local giving increases non-local giving by $0.48.  The substitution is strongest for competitive out-of-district races, suggesting that individuals give with the intention of helping their party win nationally.

Works in Progress

Median Voters in the Metaverse

Digital communication technologies such as ad targeting allow candidates to tailor campaign messages.  This paper explores the contrast between how candidates appeal to their traditional audience of local voters and the more ideologically-extreme national donors they can reach with targeted digital ads.  Using data on geographically-targeted Facebook ads, I find that candidates' local ads exhibit more overlap and sound more similar across party than do their national ads.  Digitization has facilitated communication with distant, polarized audiences, which has created the incentive and ability for candidates to communicate messages that are both distinct from their local messages and more distinct from the opposing party's.

Falsifying Models of Firm Conduct (with Lorenzo Magnolfi, Dan Quint, and Chris Sullivan) (Draft)

Econometric testing of models of firm conduct when true markups are unobserved is based on a falsifiable restriction (Berry and Haile, 2014). We reinterpret this restriction to shed light on the economic determinants of model falsifiability. We show that whether a model of conduct can be falsified largely depends on an interplay between the variation induced by the instruments, and the differences in pass-through matrices between that model and the truth. Through a set of examples that include the leading models used in empirical work, we illustrate why falsification succeeds or fails. 

Published Papers

Differentiated-Products Cournot Attributes Higher Markups Than Bertrand-Nash (with Lorenzo Magnolfi, Dan Quint, and Chris Sullivan), Economics Letters, 2022

In a differentiated products setting when costs are unobserved, the Cournot model of quantity-setting competition attributes a greater share of prices to markups than does the Bertrand–Nash model of price-setting, leading to lower estimates of marginal costs.

Playlisting Favorites: Measuring Platform Bias in the Music Industry (with Luis Aguiar and Joel Waldfogel),  International Journal of Industrial Organization, 2021 

Platforms are growing increasingly powerful, raising questions about whether their power might be exercised with bias. While bias is inherently difficult to measure, we identify a context within the music industry that is amenable to bias testing. Our approach requires ex ante platform assessments of commercial promise – such as the rank order in which products are presented – along with information on eventual product success. A platform is biased against a product type if the type attains greater success, conditional on ex ante assessment. Theoretical considerations and voiced industry concerns suggest the possibility of platform biases in favor of major record labels, and industry participants also point to bias against women. Using data on Spotify curators’ rank of songs on New Music Friday playlists in 2017, we find that Spotify’s New Music Friday rankings favor independent-label music, along with some evidence of bias in favor of music by women. Despite challenges that independent-label artists and women face in the music industry, Spotify’s New Music curation appears to favor them.