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Author:Karger, Ezra 

Working Paper
Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders to anonymized cellphone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay at home: county-level measures of mobility declined by between 9% and 13% by the day after the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: restaurants and retail stores. However, food delivery sharply increased after orders went into effect. Third, there is substantial county-level heterogeneity in consumer ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-12

Working Paper
Heterogeneous Impacts of Sentencing Decisions

We examine 70,581 felony court cases filed in Chicago, IL during the period 1990-2007. We exploit case randomization to assess the impact of judge assignment and sentencing decisions on the arrival rates of new charges. Relative to prior research, we document an important source of heterogeneity in the impact of incarceration on recidivism. Incarceration creates lasting reductions in recidivism among first offenders but not repeat offenders. We present suggestive evidence that these reductions among first offenders primarily reflect outcomes for offenders who live in lower-crime areas of the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP 2022-02

Working Paper
Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders during the Covid-19 pandemic to anonymized cell phone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay home: county-level measures of mobility declined 6–7% within two days of when the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: small businesses and large retail chains. Third, we estimate fairly uniform responses to stay-at-home orders across the country; effects do not vary by ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-12

Working Paper
Heterogeneous Impacts of Sentencing Decisions

We examine 70,581 felony court cases filed in Chicago, IL during the period 1990-2007. We exploit case randomization to assess the impact of judge assignment and sentencing decisions on the arrival rates of new charges. Relative to prior research, we document an important source of heterogeneity in the impact of incarceration on recidivism. Incarceration creates lasting reductions in recidivism among first offenders but not repeat offenders. We present suggestive evidence that these reductions among first offenders primarily reflect outcomes for offenders who live in lower-crime areas of the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP 2022-02

Working Paper
Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders to anonymized cell phone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay home: County-level measures of mobility declined 8% by the day after the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: small businesses and large retail stores. However, consumers sharply increased spending on food delivery services after orders went into effect. Third, responses to stay-at-home orders were ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2020-12

Working Paper
Tracking U.S. Consumers in Real Time with a New Weekly Index of Retail Trade

We create a new weekly index of retail trade that accurately predicts the U.S. Census Bureau's Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS). The index's weekly frequency provides an early snapshot of the MRTS and allows for a more granular analysis of the aggregate consumer response to fast-moving events such as the Covid-19 pandemic. To construct the index, we extract the co-movement in weekly data series capturing credit and debit card transactions, mobility, gasoline sales, and consumer sentiment. To ensure that the index is representative of aggregate retail spending, we implement a novel ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-05

Working Paper
The Returns to Public Library Investment

Local governments spend over 12 billion dollars annually funding the operation of 17,000 public libraries in the United States, yet we know little about their effects. We use data describing the near-universe of public libraries to show that public library investment increases children’s attendance at library events by 18%, children’s checkouts of items by 21%, and library visits by 21%. Increases in library use translate into improved test scores in nearby school districts: a $1,000 or greater per-student capital investment in local public libraries increases reading test scores by 0.02 ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-06

Working Paper
The Returns to Public Library Investment

Local governments spend over 12 billion dollars annually funding the operation of 15,000 public libraries in the United States. This funding supports widespread library use: more than 50% of Americans visit public libraries each year. But despite extensive public investment in libraries, surprisingly little research quantities the effects of public libraries on communities and children. We use data on the near-universe of U.S. public libraries to study the effects of capital spending shocks on library resources, patron usage, student achievement, and local housing prices. We use a dynamic ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-06

Working Paper
Do Stay-at-Home Orders Cause People to Stay at Home? Effects of Stay-at-Home Orders on Consumer Behavior

We link the county-level rollout of stay-at-home orders to anonymized cell phone records and consumer spending data. We document three patterns. First, stay-at-home orders caused people to stay at home: County-level measures of mobility declined 9–13% by the day after the stay-at-home order went into effect. Second, stay-at-home orders caused large reductions in spending in sectors associated with mobility: restaurants and retail stores. However, consumers sharply increased spending on food delivery services after orders went into effect. Third, while the response of residents to ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP 2020-12

Working Paper
Tracking U.S. Consumers in Real Time with a New Weekly Index of Retail Trade

We create a new weekly index of retail trade that accurately predicts the U.S. Census Bureau’s Monthly Retail Trade Survey (MRTS). The index’s weekly frequency provides an early snapshot of the MRTS and allows for a more granular analysis of the aggregate implications of policies implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic. To construct the index, we extract the co-movement in several weekly data series capturing credit & debit card transactions and revenues, mobility, and consumer sentiment as well as monthly retail and food services sales excluding automotive spending (ex. autos) from the ...
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-2021-05

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