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CSMGEP Dissertation Session

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 5, 2024 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (CST)

Grand Hyatt, Lone Star Ballroom Salon A
This session will be streamed live.
Hosted By: American Economic Association & Committee on the Status of Minority Groups in the Economics Profession
  • Chair: Neville Francis, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

COBOLing Together UI Benefits: How Delays in Fiscal Stabilizers Impact Aggregate Consumption

Michael A. Navarrete
University of Maryland


The United States experienced an unprecedented increase in unemployment insurance (UI) claims starting in March 2020, mainly due to layoffs caused by COVID-19. State unemployment insurance systems were inadequately prepared to process these claims. Those states using an antiquated programming language, COBOL, to process UI claims experienced an increase in administrative burdens for potential claimants, which led to longer delays in benefit disbursement and an increase in discouraged filers. Using daily card consumption data from Affinity Solutions, I employ a two-way fixed effects estimator to estimate the causal impact of having an antiquated UI benefit system on aggregate consumption. The antiquated UI systems caused a 3.6 percentage point relative decline in total card consumption in COBOL states relative to non-COBOL states. This effect can be decomposed into three types: (1) delays in a claimant filing a claim, (2) delays in a UI benefit system processing a claim, and (3) an increase in discouraged filers. I find a 1.5 percentage point increase in the share of claims that experience a processing delay over 70 days in COBOL states relative to non-COBOL states. I also find suggestive evidence that the increase in administrative burdens for claimants in COBOL states led to an additional 5.6 million discouraged filers relative to non-COBOL states. These discouraged filers would have claimed UI benefits in COBOL states if the administrative burdens in their COBOL states had been as low as in non-COBOL states. Performing a back-of-the-envelope calculation using 2019 data, I find that a 3.6 percentage point decline in consumption in COBOL states in 2020 after the emergency declaration corresponds to a real GDP decline of $220 billion (in 2012 dollars).

Homophily in the Labor Market: Evidence from the Gig Economy

Ini Umosen
University of California-Berkeley


This paper documents the existence of homophily in an online freelance marketplace. Digital platforms have created important new forms of employment. However, the design of these platforms has the potential to introduce and/or intensify bias. A key design choice is the use of real names and profile photos which is meant to engender trust, but also makes gender, race, and other characteristics more salient. I add to the literature on bias on digital labor platforms by measuring gender and racial homophily (specifically the tendency of clients to hire freelancers of the same gender or race) in the setting of an online freelance marketplace for foreign language tutoring. I find consistent evidence for gender homophily. The female share of tutors a student matches with is 5.5 percentage points higher for female students. I also find several sources of heterogeneity and some suggestive evidence for racial homophily.

Examining State R&D Policies and Federal Grant Opportunities: Analyzing the Effect on Small High-Tech Businesses from Socially Disadvantaged Groups

April Burrage
University of Massachusetts-Amherst


This paper examines how state R&D policy affects federal grant opportunities for high-tech startups from socially disadvantaged groups. I examine how state research and development (R&D) tax credits for startups owned by women and ethnic minorities affect engagement in the federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is explicitly charged with encouraging minority and disadvantaged participation in technological innovation. Employing a doubly robust, staggered difference-in-differences estimator, I leverage variation in the implementation of state R&D tax credit programs to examine the impact on all startups, as well as the differential effects by race and gender. The results suggest that the impact of R&D policies on SBIR success for both underrepresented and non-underrepresented businesses varies by state, with underrepresented entrepreneurs showing post-implementation trends similar to non-underrepresented entrepreneurs.

International Production Networks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the U.S. Semiconductor Industry

Eric Neuyou
University of Arkansas


This paper investigates the extent and the mechanisms through which a shock to the semiconductor industry impacts U.S. economic growth. I use a historical perspective and network approach to examine the evolution of semiconductor sector’s role in the structural changes of the U.S. economy during the period of 1967-2012. Exploiting detailed input output tables from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and data on 364 industries from NBER CES manufacturing database, I combine network tools and a dynamic panel estimation to quantify the importance of semiconductor on U.S. GDP. My findings suggest that a one standard deviation shock to the semiconductor productivity would induce a 6% change of U.S. aggregate output. The supply effect of semiconductor’s role in the intersectoral linkages of U.S. economy explain 98% of this impact while the demand effect is insignificant. I identify and quantify semiconductor’s scale, scope, and speed effects in the network as the mechanisms driving its growing influence on U.S. economy. My study contributes to the vision to increase U.S. domestic production of semiconductor.

Ioana Marinescu
University of Pennsylvania
Matthew Notowidigdo
University of Chicago
Scott Stern
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kim Ruhl
University of Wisconsin-Madison
JEL Classifications
  • E0 - General
  • J0 - General