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Working Papers

Evaluation of the sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Oakland, United States, 2015-19: A quasi-experimental and cost-effectiveness study

(with Justin White, Sanjay Basu, Kristine Madsen, Dean Schillinger, and Sofia B. Villas Boas). Conditionally Accepted at PLOS Medicine.

While a 2021 federal commission recommended that the US government levy an SSB tax to improve diabetes prevention and control efforts, evidence is limited regarding the longer-term impacts of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes on SSB purchases, health outcomes, costs, and cost-effectiveness. This study estimates the impact and cost-effectiveness of an SSB tax levied in Oakland, California. In the primary difference-in-differences analysis, SSB purchases declined by 26.8% (-45,220 fl oz per store each month, 95% CI -65,667 to -24,773, p<0.001) in Oakland after tax implementation, compared with Richmond, California. There were no detectable changes in purchases of untaxed beverages or sweet snacks or purchases in border areas. In the synthetic control analysis, declines in SSB purchases were similar to the main analysis (-22.4%, 95% CI -41.7% to -3.0%, p = 0.04). The estimated changes in SSB purchases, when translated into declines in consumption, would be expected to accrue Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) of 94 per 10,000 residents, and significant societal cost savings (>$100,000 per 10,000 residents) over 10 years, with greater gains over a lifetime horizon.

Leveling the playing field: The distributional impact of salary caps on player compensation

Draft available upon request. Revisions requested.

How does a salary cap impact (i) superstar compensation and (ii) the distribution of player compensation across a league? Using ticket price data from the NBA, I estimate player market values based on observed talent and compare them to their observed salaries. First, I find that players receive a significantly smaller share of league revenues than the sum of their market values. Next, the ratio of actual to expected salary is 1-21% for the most talented players, primarily resulting from a maximum contract threshold. This results in the top 20th percentile of talented players subsidizing the bottom 80%. The findings have important implications for the structure of compensation in professional sports leagues as well as bargaining among players and between players and team governors.

Pay equality among heterogeneous agents

(with Ryan Hoffman and Ashwin Kambhampati). Link Here. Revisions Requested.

A principal incentivizes a team of agents to work by choosing performance-contingent rewards. She desires to implement work by all agents as a unique Nash equilibrium. We develop a model in which agents are heterogeneous, both in their costs of effort and marginal contributions to team success. We identify necessary and sufficient conditions under which it is optimal to reward heterogeneous agents equally, and show that increasing inequality in the marginal productivity of agents can either increase or decrease pay inequality. Our results rationalize observed patterns of performance pay in many labor market settings, including professional sports leagues and the military.

In Progress

Preferences and demand for information that entertains

(with Oskar Zorrilla). Previously circulated under the title "Entertainment Utility from Skill and Thrill" and "Entertainment Demand from Expectations."


The impact of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes on consumption: evidence from a multi-city synthetic control approach

(with Justin White, Sanjay Basu, Kristine Madsen, Dean Schillinger, and Sofia B. Villas Boas).


The fear of first strike: quantitative theory of delayed punishments

(with Diego Gebhardt and Jacek Rothert).


Are consumers willing to pay to avoid price uncertainty? Evidence from the vehicle leasing market

(with Andy Hultgren and Derek Wolfson). 

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