Current Research Activities
I currently examine how households in developing economies respond to income shocks and if their responses lead to adverse outcomes in the long run. Based on the United States Cotton South during the early twentieth century, I am writing several peer-reviewed journal articles analyzing household behavior following negative weather shocks and resultant reductions in agricultural incomes. The goal of the research is to determine if household responses contributed to the stark persistent gap between black and white individual outcomes (i.e., schooling, health, and employment).
What contributed to your research interests?
In graduate school, I took a US Economic History course in which we discussed the persistent inequality between blacks and whites starting with slavery and continuing through current incarceration rates. I was struck by how the data on earnings did not match the theoretical predictions. The observation that an African American man born in 1910 made 50% less than his white peer contradicts the theory of market prices equalizing across groups and areas—even in the presence of racism. Therefore, I started down a path to understand why we observe a persistent gap and the contributing factors.
How does your research relate to current issues?
While based on a historical context, the patterns I observe are similar to those in modern developing economies. If I find effective policy solutions in my context, those policies would likely benefit individuals today. The lack of safety nets and persistent poverty are still issues we struggle with as a society.