Selected Publications

  • Why the Democrats and Republicans are Both Right on Climate

    Over the past two years, two thoughtful, innovative, and dramatically different plans to address global warming have been presented to the American public by the Democratic and the Republican Parties. Both plans would move the nation significantly toward a sustainable future. 

  • Tax Policy Toward Low-Income Families

    The Economics of Tax Policy, Oxford Unviersity Press, Edited by Alan Auerbach and Kent Smetters, 2017. (Joint with Jesse Rothstein)

    In this paper, we review the most prominent provision of the federal income tax code that targets low-income tax filers, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), as well as the structurally similar Child Tax Credit (CTC). We frame the paper around what we see as the programs’ goals: distributional, promoting work, and limiting administrative and compliance costs. We review what is known about program impacts and distributional consequences under current law, drawing on simulations from the Tax Policy Center. We conclude that the EITC is quite successful in meeting its three goals. In contrast, most of the benefits of the CTC go to higher income households. In addition to analyzing current law, we assess possible reforms that would reach groups – for the EITC, those without children; for the CTC, those with very low earnings – who are largely missed under current policy.

  • Can the US keep the PACE? A natural experiment in accelerating the growth of solar electricity

    Growing global awareness of climate change has ushered in a new era demanding policy, financial and behavioural innovations to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy. Dramatic price decreases in solar photovoltaics (PV) and public policy have underwritten the expansion of solar power, now accounting for the largest share of renewable energy in California and rising fast in other countries, such as Germany and Italy. Governments’ efforts to expand solar generation base and integrate it into municipal, regional, and national energy systems, have spawned several programs that require rigorous policy evaluations to assess their effectiveness, costs and contribution to Paris Agreement’s goals. In this study, we exploit a natural experiment in northern California to test the capacity of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to promote PV investment. PACE has been highly cost effective by more than doubling residential PV installations.

  • Consumers Buy Lower-Cost Plans on Covered California Suggesting Premium Increases Are Less Than Commonly Reported
  • The EITC: A Key Policy to Support Families Facing Wage Stagnation

    IRLE Policy Brief, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley, January 2017.

  • Illegality: A Contemporary Portrait of Immigration

    Gonzales, Roberto G., and Steven Raphael (2017), “Illegality: A Contemporary Portrait of Immigration,” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 3(4): 1–17.

  • U.S. Food and Nutrition Programs

    Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States, Volume I, University of Chicago Press, Robert Moffitt Editor, 2016. (Joint with Diane Schanzenbach)

  • Do Politicians Use Policy to Make Politics? The Case of Public-Sector Labor Laws

    Anzia, Sarah F., and Terry M. Moe. 2016. "Do Politicians Use Policy to Make Politics? The Case of Public-Sector Labor Laws." American Political Science Review 110 (4): 763-777.

    Schattschneider’s insight that “policies make politics” has played an influential role in the modern study of political institutions and public policy. Yet if policies do indeed make politics, rational politicians have opportunities to use policies to structure future politics to their own advantage—and this strategic dimension has gone almost entirely unexplored.  Do politicians actually use policies to make politics?  Under what conditions?  In this paper, we develop a theoretical argument about what can be expected from strategic politicians, and we carry out an empirical analysis on a policy development that is particularly instructive: the adoption of public-sector collective bargaining laws by the states during the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s—laws that fueled the rise of public-sector unions, and “made politics” to the advantage of Democrats over Republicans.