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Author:Severen, Christopher 

Working Paper
Driving, Dropouts, and Drive-Throughs: Mobility Restrictions and Teen Human Capita

We provide evidence that graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, originally intended to improve public safety, impact both high school completion and teen employment. Many teens use automobiles to commute both to school and to employment. Because school and work decisions are interrelated, the effects of automobile-specific mobility restrictions are ex ante ambiguous. Combining variation in the timing of both GDL law adoption and changes in compulsory school laws into a triple-difference research design shows that restricting teen mobility significantly reduces high school dropout rates and ...
Working Papers , Paper 22-22

Journal Article
Not All Rush Hours Are the Same

Why are commute times for Black workers longer than those of White workers, especially in Philadelphia?
Economic Insights , Volume 8 , Issue 3 , Pages 16-25

Working Paper
Lockdowns and Innovation: Evidence from the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Does social distancing harm innovation? We estimate the effect of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)—policies that restrict interactions in an attempt to slow the spread of disease—on local invention. We construct a panel of issued patents and NPIs adopted by 50 large US cities during the 1918 flu pandemic. Difference-in-differences estimates show that cities adopting longer NPIs did not experience a decline in patenting during the pandemic relative to short-NPI cities, and recorded higher patenting afterward. Rather than reduce local invention by restricting localized knowledge ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-46

Working Paper
Commuting, Labor, and Housing Market Effects of Mass Transportation: Welfare and Identification

REVISED MARCH 2019 This paper studies the effects of Los Angeles Metro Rail on the spatial distribution of people and prices. Using a panel of bilateral commuting flows, I estimate a quantitative spatial general equilibrium model to quantify the welfare benefits of urban rail transit and distinguish the benefits of reduced commuting frictions from other channels. The subway causes a 7%-13% increase in commuting between pairs of connected tracts; I select plausible control pairs using proposed subway and historical streetcar lines to identify this effect. The structural parameters of the model ...
Working Papers , Paper 18-14

Working Paper
The Problem Has Existed over Endless Years: Racialized Difference in Commuting, 1980–2019

How have the longer journeys to work faced by Black commuters evolved in the United States over the last four decades? Black commuters spent 50.3 more minutes commuting per week in 1980 than White commuters; this difference declined to 22.4 minutes per week in 2019. Two factors account for the majority of the difference: Black workers are more likely to commute by transit, and Black workers make up a larger share of the population in cities with long average commutes. Increases in car commuting by Black workers account for nearly one-quarter of the decline in the racialized difference in ...
Working Papers , Paper 22-13

Working Paper
Formative Experiences and the Price of Gasoline

An individual?s initial experiences with a common good, such as gasoline, can shape their behavior for decades. We first show that the 1979 oil crisis had a persistent neg-ative effect on the likelihood that individuals that came of driving age during this time drove to work in the year 2000 (i.e., in their mid 30s). The effect is stronger for those with lower incomes and those in cities. Combining data on many cohorts, we then show that large increases in gasoline prices between the ages of 15 and 18 sig-nificantly reduce both (i) the likelihood of driving a private automobile to work and ...
Working Papers , Paper 19-35

Working Paper
Land-Use Regulations, Property Values, and Rents: Decomposing the Effects of the California Coastal Act

REVISED MARCH 2018 Land-use regulations can lower real estate prices by imposing costs on property owners, but may raise prices by restricting supply and generating amenities. We study the effects of the California Coastal Act, one of the nation?s most stringent land-use regulations, on prices and rents for multifamily housing units. The Coastal Act applies to a narrow section of the California coast, allowing us to compare properties on either side of the jurisdictional boundary. The Coastal Act offers several advantages for measuring the effects of land-use regulations, including plausible ...
Working Papers , Paper 17-33

Journal Article
A Ticket to Ride: Estimating the Benefits of Rail Transit

Starting in 1990, Los Angeles County built a new and expensive rail transit system. Now we can calculate the costs and benefits.
Economic Insights , Volume 5 , Issue 2 , Pages 1-9



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