Hello. I was born and raised in Evanston, IL, attended Grinnell College for my undergraduate education, and now crunch numbers and sip coffee as a Ph.D. Candidate in Economics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. My research addresses policy-relevant questions in public economics and consumer finance. In my dissertation, I use innovative new survey data to analyze perceptions of U.S. income tax rates. The survey instrument was developed in collaboration with my advisors, Bob Willis and Matthew Shapiro, and fielded on the 2011 wave of the Cognitive Economics Study.
Job Market Paper: "Survey Measurement of Tax Rates: Estimation and Behavioral Implications"
Abstract | Paper [PDF] | Appendices [PDF]
This paper uses survey techniques to characterize income tax rate perceptions and analyze the effect of tax incentives on retirement savings. Comparing survey measures of tax rates with those computed from survey measures of income, respondents overestimate average tax rates, slightly underestimate marginal tax rates and underestimate the degree of progressivity in the tax schedule. A statistical model of the survey and computed marginal tax rates is used to analyze heterogeneity in perceptions and to impute true tax rates that correct for possible measurement error in both measures. There is substantial heterogeneity in marginal tax rate perceptions, with systematic differences related to income, cognitive ability and using a paid tax preparer. Variation in perceptions, conditional on the imputed true rate, helps explain contributions to tax-advantaged savings accounts, but only for people who understand the tax treatment of these accounts.