Benjamin Feigenberg

Department of Economics
University of Illinois at Chicago
University Hall room 706
601 South Morgan Street
Chicago, IL 60607

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of Illinois at Chicago

NBER Working Papers and Publications

January 2020States Taking the Reins? Employment Verification Requirements and Local Labor Market Outcomes
with Shalise Ayromloo, Darren Lubotsky: w26676
We estimate the impact of state-level “E-Verify” legislation that mandates employment eligibility verification for private-sector workers. We document declines in formal sector employment and employment turnover after mandate passage, with effects concentrated among those likeliest to be work-ineligible. Using newly available data, we show that larger firms are far more likely to comply with mandates. Heterogeneity in adherence leads to substantial within-state employment spillovers from larger to smaller firms, as well as a reduction in the number of large firms. We find no evidence that work-ineligible populations relocate or that native-born workers’ labor market outcomes improve in response to mandates.
June 2018Racial Divisions and Criminal Justice: Evidence from Southern State Courts
with Conrad Miller: w24726
The US criminal justice system is exceptionally punitive. We test whether racial heterogeneity is one cause, exploiting cross-jurisdiction variation in punishment in four Southern states. We estimate the causal effect of jurisdiction on arrest charge outcome, validating our estimates using a quasi-experimental research design based on defendants charged in multiple jurisdictions. Consistent with a model of in-group bias in electorate preferences, the relationship between local punishment severity and black population share follows an inverted U-shape. Within states, defendants are 27%-54% more likely to be sentenced to incarceration in ‘peak’ heterogeneous jurisdictions than in homogeneous jurisdictions.
February 2017Illusory Gains from Chile's Targeted School Voucher Experiment
with Steven Rivkin, Rui Yan: w23178
In 2008, Chile implemented a targeted voucher program that increased voucher values for disadvantaged students at participating schools by approximately 50%. Although disadvantaged students made substantial fourth grade test score gains that other studies have attributed to the program, our analysis raises serious doubts that the program had a substantial effect on cognitive skills. First, there was only a minor reduction in class size and little evidence of increases in any inputs. An audit showed that many schools were not using additional revenues for permitted expenditures, and estimates that exploit a discontinuity in the revenues allocated to schools show no evidence of positive effects of allocated funds on achievement growth. In addition, there is limited evidence of competitive or...

Published: Benjamin Feigenberg & Rui Yan & Steven Rivkin, 2019. "Illusory Gains from Chile's Targeted School Voucher Experiment," The Economic Journal, vol 129(10), pages 2805-2832.

May 2010Building Social Capital Through MicroFinance
with Erica M. Field, Rohini Pande: w16018
A number of development assistance programs promote community interaction as a means of building social capital. Yet, despite strong theoretical underpinnings, the role of repeat interactions in sustaining cooperation has proven difficult to identify empirically. We provide the first experimental evidence on the economic returns to social interaction in the context of microfinance. Random variation in the frequency of mandatory meetings across first-time borrower groups generates exogenous and persistent changes in clients' social ties. We show that the resulting increases in social interaction among clients more than a year later are associated with improvements in informal risk-sharing and reductions in default. A second field experiment among a subset of clients provides direct evidence...

Published: “The Economic Returns to Social Interaction: Experimental Evidence from Microfinance” (with Rohini Pande and Benjamin Feigenberg). Review of Economic Studies , October 2013, 80(4): 1459 - 1483 .

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