PhD Candidate, Department of Economics

Contact Information

Department of Economics
Northwestern University
2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208

E-mail: titanalon@u.northwestern.edu

Curriculum Vitae

Download Vita (PDF)


Education

Ph.D., Economics, Northwestern University, 2018 (expected)
M.A., Economics, Northwestern University, 2013
M.Sc., Economics (with distinction), London School of Economics, 2012
B.A., Economics, minor Mathematics, Harvard University, 2009

Primary Fields of Specialization

Macroeconomics, Labor Economics

Secondary Fields of Specialization

Economic History , Applied Econometrics

Research Interests

Income Inequality, Human Capital, Market Structure and Firm Dynamics, Productivity and Growth

Job Market Paper

Earning More by Doing Less: Human Capital Specialization and the College Wage Premium  (PDF)

This paper builds a model of human capital accumulation driven by increasing specialization of the workforce. Individuals increase the efficiency of time dedicated to human capital acquisition by focusing investments on narrower sets of skills. The evolution of secondary and post-secondary curricula in the United States from 1870-2000 confirms the presence of these changes in the scope of specialization. Quantitative exercises show that specialization can account for roughly 29% of the rise in the skill premium, and 25-30% of the rise in relative educational attainment from 1965-2005. The effect on the skill premium is largely due to a decline in specialization in high school, where vocational training was replaced with academic graduation requirements. The model’s predictions are also consistent with international variation in the skill premium, attainment levels, and the organization of educational institutions. An important policy implication of the analysis is that making room for specialized occupational training in secondary schools could be an effective tool to tackle income inequality.

Other Research Papers

Older and Slower: The Startup Deficit’s Lasting Effects on Aggregate Productivity Growth  (PDF)

with David Berger, Robert Dent, and Benjamin Pugsley, forthcoming at the Journal of Monetary Economics, Vol 93, 2018

We investigate the link between declining firm entry, aging incumbent firms and sluggish U.S. productivity growth. We provide a dynamic decomposition framework to characterize the contributions to industry productivity growth across the firm age distribution and apply this framework to the newly developed Revenue-enhanced Longitudinal Business Database (ReLBD). Overall, several key findings emerge: (i) the relationship between firm age and productivity growth is downward sloping and convex; (ii) the magnitudes are substantial and significant but fade quickly, with nearly 2/3 of the effect disappearing after five years and nearly the entire effect disappearing after ten; (iii) the higher productivity growth of young firms is driven nearly exclusively by the forces of selection and reallocation. Our results suggest a cumulative drag on aggregate productivity of 3.1% since 1980. Using an instrumental variables strategy we find a consistent pattern across states/MSAs in the U.S. The patterns are broadly consistent with a standard Hopenhayn (1992) model of firm dynamics with monopolistic competition.

A non-technical discussion on Equitablog published by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. 

Additional media mentions and discussions in The Seattle Times and The Daily Caller.

Trends in Work and Leisure: It’s a Family Affair

with Sena Coskun and Matthias Doepke

In recent decades, the correlation between U.S. men’s wages and hours worked has reversed: low-wage men used to work the longest hours, whereas today it is men with the highest wages who work the most. This changing correlation accounts for roughly 30 percent of the rise in the variance of male earnings between 1975 and 2015. In this paper, we rationalize these trends in a model of joint household labor supply. Our quantitative model generates similar changes to what is observed in the data as a reaction to shifts in women’s education and labor supply, the gender gap, and assortative mating. Our model is consistent with the observations that the changing wage-hours correlation among men is driven by married men, and that there is little change in the wage-hours correlation among employed women and at the household level. The results suggest that taking into account joint household decision making is essential for understanding the dynamics of labor supply.

The Rise in Market Concentration: Did Deregulation Do It?

with David Berger

The United States is in the midst of a multiple decade decline in start-up activity and rise in market concentration. Several prominent researchers have identified increasing government regulation as a potential culprit. In this paper, we take the alternative view that it was government deregulation driving these trends, particularly those of the telecom, energy, finance, and transportation industries. Alongside any direct effects, we argue that these “network inputs” are used more intensively in the production process of large and multi-unit firms. As a result, the large price declines in these industries resulting from deregulation–already widely documented in the industrial organization literature–constitute a cost shock asymmetrically benefiting larger organizational structures. Using administrative Census microdata, we document the consistency of our hypothesis with data on expenditure costs by firm size and detailed cross-industry variation in market structure. We conclude by building a multi-sector model with intermediate goods markets calibrated to real world data to quantify the lasting direct and indirect effects of deregulation on start-up activity and market concentration.

Schools, Skills, and Curricula in the 20th Century

Drawing on primary sources and historical evidence, this paper explains how the formal education system emerged as the locus of job training in the modern economy. The analysis highlights the importance of allowing curricular specialization in catalyzing this transition. Prior to 1870, nearly all educational institutions offered a single undifferentiated curriculum focused on classics and character building. By the turn of the 20th century, specialized, occupationally oriented course sequences were proliferating at both the secondary and post-secondary levels. This paper identifies major shifts in government policies and educational philosophies that spurred these changes and examines their effects on educational attainment and labor market outcomes. Empirical exercises exploiting geographic and time series variation in the universe of degree conferrals confirms the statistical significance of curricular specialization as an important determinant of the returns to education.

Institutional Analysis and the Determinants of Chinese Foreign Direct Investment

Multinational Business Review, Vol. 18, Issue 3, 2010.

This paper provides an empirical analysis of the impact of the Chinese institutional environment on its globalization patterns. A framework is presented through which distortive government policies act upon existing country and firm-specific advantages, giving rise to institutional-specific (dis)advantages. The applicability of this framework is then tested empirically through an unrestricted regression model that controls for the standard explanatory factors of inter-country foreign direct investment (FDI) in comparing state and private sector outbound foreign direct investment (OFDI) determinants. This study concludes that institutional discrimination creates relative advantages for state-owned firms at a cost to private enterprise, leading to divergences in IB strategies.

Economic Letters

Operation Twist and the Effect of Large-Scale Asset Purchases (PDF)

with Eric Swanson, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letters, 2011

The Federal Reserve’s current large-scale asset purchase program, dubbed “QE2,” has a precedent in a 1961 initiative by the Kennedy Administration and the Federal Reserve known as “Operation Twist.” An analysis finds that four of six potentially market-moving Operation Twist announcements had statistically significant effects and that the program cumulatively caused a significant but moderate 0.15 percentage point reduction in longer-term Treasury yields. These results can be used to estimate QE2’s effects.

What is the Value of Bank Output? (PDF)

with John Fernald, Robert Inklaar, and J. Christina Wang, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letters, 2011

Financial institutions often do not charge explicit fees for the services they provide, but are instead compensated by the spread between interest rates on loans and deposits. The lack of explicit fees in lending makes it difficult to measure the output of banks and other financial institutions. Effective measurement should distinguish between income from lending services and income from portfolio decisions on risk and duration, and should be consistent among bank and nonbank financial institutions.

What Is China’s Capital Seeking in a Global Environment? (PDF)

with Galina Hale and Joao Santos, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letters, 2010

China is becoming increasingly active in international markets for mergers and acquisitions. Chinese acquirers are buying stakes in foreign companies to get access to resources, markets, and technology, among other reasons. With China’s expanding wealth and vast foreign exchange resources, further growth in the volume and variety of foreign direct investment is likely.

Teaching

Math 386-1: Econometrics, 2014 and 2015, (Most Recent Course Review: 5.6/6.0)
Math 386-2: Econometrics (Time Series), 2014 and 2015, (Most Recent Course Review: 5.9/6.0)

References

Prof. Matthias Doepke (Committee Chair)
Prof. David Berger
Prof. Joel Mokyr
Prof. Robert Porter (Teaching Reference)