Working Papers

“Job Networks through College Classmates: Effects of Referrals for Men and Women,” (Job Market Paper)

Abstract: This paper analyzes effects of referrals on labor market outcomes, as well as how these effects differ by gender. To do so, I link administrative data on community college student transcripts to matched employer-employee records to study job search through classmates. Using a novel two-step research design, I first identify classroom network effects by exploiting quasi-random variation in section enrollment within courses. Results indicate taking a class with a peer increases the propensity for a student to get a job at a firm where the peer is incumbent. The overall propensity to use classmates in job finding does not differ by gender, although students do display an increased propensity to form networks with same-gender peers. In the second step of the research design, I investigate the labor market effects of obtaining a job through a classmate. Consistent with the predictions of a referral-based job search model, workers who obtain jobs through classmates earn more and are less likely to leave the firm, with effects declining with tenure in the firm. However, while referrals benefit both genders, the earnings premium from referrals for women is less than half the premium for men. From a policy perspective, these findings suggest a key tension between increasing efficiency through referrals and increasing gender equity.

“Limited Contracts, Limited Quality? Effects of Adjunct Instructors on Teaching Quality in Higher Education”

Abstract: In recent decades, colleges nationwide have increasingly opted to hire adjunct instructors in place to full-time instructors to teach classes. Using data on public colleges in Arkansas, this paper analyzes how instructor status affects student outcomes, as well as the factors driving differences in outcomes by instructor type. To do so, I focus on students in their first semester of college and use an identification strategy that controls for student sorting into instructor types, as well as differences in outcomes across courses. Results indicate that taking a course with an adjunct instructor decreases the propensity for a student to take a subsequent course in the subject at both two-year and four-year colleges. Additionally, at two-year colleges, I find that an increase in the proportion of adjuncts in a student’s schedule decreases the propensity for the student both to persist in college after the first year and to earn a degree within two years. Next, I provide evidence that for instructors who switch statuses, moving from adjunct to full-time improves student outcomes along multiple metrics. Specifically, using an instructor fixed effects approach, I find that changing an instructor’s status increases the probability a student will take a subsequent course in the subject and also increases the propensity for a student to stay in college after their first year. Furthermore, the magnitude of these effects explains over 50% of the discrepancy in outcomes between adjuncts and full-time instructors along these metrics. Together, these findings suggest that for at least subset of adjuncts eligible for full-time positions, a significant portion of lower student outcomes attributed to adjuncts are driven by differences in institutional conditions across instructor types, rather than inherently lower teaching qualities.


“Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Education,” with Peter Arcidiacono and Michael Lovenheim, Annual Review of Economics (2015)

Works in Progress

“Coworker Networks and the Role of Occupation in Job Search,” with Attila Gyetvai