Working Papers

Job Market Paper

Abstract: Minority renters are 42% more likely to face an eviction case than white renters. I develop and apply a simple framework to test whether this reflects discrimination by landlords. Discrimination is measured by racial disparities in back rent owed at the time of an eviction filing, conditional on landlord and monthly contract rent. Distinguishing the sources of discrimination requires further conditioning and conducting a marginal outcome test which compares a landlord’s rate of winning court-ordered repossession of the property by tenant race. Using detailed administrative data from Philadelphia, I find evidence of discrimination: landlords tolerate 4.5% less back rent from minority tenants before filing an eviction case. Between 49% and 73% of landlords exhibit racial discrimination. Discrimination is higher among non-corporate, white landlords and against minority renters in majority-white neighborhoods. I find additional evidence consistent with accurate statistical discrimination: landlords observe that winning repossession of the property from minority tenants requires less back rent and therefore apply lower filing thresholds to minority tenants to achieve the same rate of repossession.

Work in Progress

The Effect of a Public Eviction Record

with Grace Ortuzar

Abstract:  Housing advocates have long argued that the public record associated with an eviction case—often referred to as the “Scarlet E”—carries significant consequences, particularly for low-income households. We aim to provide the first causal estimates of the effect of a public eviction filing record. To do so, we study a policy in Cook County, Illinois that mandated all eviction cases be filed under seal between March 2020 and March 2022. Upon the expiration of the sealing policy on April 1, 2022, all new eviction filings were public record while previously filed cases remained sealed. Focusing on this policy end date, we adopt a regression discontinuity design comparing the mobility and credit trajectories of tenants with sealed and public eviction cases. The results of this study will inform policy decisions on record-sealing laws in jurisdictions across the country.

The Domestic Effects of a Migration Ban: Evidence from Sri Lanka

with Nilesh Fernando and Paul Shaloka


Journal of Public Economics (2024)

with Nilesh Fernando, International Migration Review (2022)

with Jaimie Bleck, Journal of Modern African Studies (2020)