Selected Publications

  • An analytic framework to assess future electricity options in Kosovo

    We have developed an analytic platform to analyze the electricity options, costs, and impacts for Kosovo, a nation that is a critical part of the debate over centralized versus distributed electricity generation and the role of fossil fuels versus cleaner electricity options to meet growing demands for power. We find that a range of alternatives exists to meet present supply constraints all at a lower cost than constructing a proposed 600 MW coal plant. The options include energy efficiency measures, combinations of solar PV, wind, hydropower, and biomass, and the introduction of natural gas. A 30 EUR ton–1 shadow price on CO2 increases costs of coal generation by at least 330 million EUR. The results indicate that financing a new coal plant is the most expensive pathway to meet future electricity demand.

  • Health Labor Market Analyses in Low- and Middle-Income Countries: An Evidence-Based Approach
  • The Effect of Disability Insurance Payments on Beneficiaries’ Earnings

    With Timothy Moore and Alexander Strand. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 2017, 9(3), 229-261.

    A crucial issue is whether social insurance affects work decisions through income or substitution effects. We examine this in the context of U.S. Social Security Disability Insurance (DI), exploiting discontinuous changes in the benefit formula with a regression kink design to estimate the income effect of payments on earnings and employment. Using administrative data on all new DI beneficiaries from 2001 to 2007, our preferred estimate is that an increase in DI payments of one dollar causes an average decrease in beneficiaries’ earnings of twenty cents and that annual employment rates decrease by 1.3 percentage points per $1,000 of DI payments. These findings suggest that the income effect accounts for a majority of DI-induced reductions in earnings.

  • Strengthening Temporary Assistance for Needy Families

    The Hamilton Project, Policy Proposal 2016-04, May 2016

    The Great Recession was the longest and by some measures the most severe economic downturn in the postwar period. The experience revealed important weaknesses in the central cash welfare program for families with children in the United States, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). First, TANF fails to reach a sizeable share of needy families, does little to reduce deep poverty, and is not targeted to the most needy. Second, in its current form the program does not automatically expand during economic downturns, when the need for the program is likely greatest and the additional consumer spending would be particularly welcome. To strengthen TANF, we propose reforms to expand its reach, improve its responsiveness to cyclical downturns, and enhance its transparency. Together these reforms would make the program more effective in protecting families from deep poverty.

  • City-​​integrated renewable energy for urban sustainability

    To prepare for an urban influx of 2.5 billion people by 2050, it is critical to create cities that are lowcarbon, resilient, and livable. Cities not only contribute to global climate change by emitting the majority of anthropogenic greenhouse gases but also are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and extreme weather.We explore options for establishing sustainable energy systems by reducing energy consumption, particularly in the buildings and transportation sectors, and providing robust, decentralized, and renewable energy sources. Through technical advancements in power density, city-integrated renewable energy will be better suited to satisfy the high-energy demands of growing urban areas. Several economic, technical, behavioral, and political challenges need to be overcome for innovation to improve urban sustainability.

  • Impact of Market Concentration on Premiums: Evidence from Covered California and New York State of Health
  • SWITCH-China: A Systems Approach to Decarbonizing China’s Power System

    We present an integrated model, SWITCHChina, of the Chinese power sector with which to analyze the economic and technological implications of a medium to longterm decarbonization scenario while accounting for very-shortterm renewable variability. On the basis of the model and assumptions used, we find that the announced 2030 carbon peak can be achieved with a carbon price of ∼$40/tCO2. Current trends in renewable energy price reductions alone are insufficient to replace coal; however, an 80% carbon emission reduction by 2050 is achievable in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Target Scenario with an optimal electricity mix in 2050 including nuclear (14%), wind (23%), solar (27%), hydro (6%), gas (1%), coal (3%), and carbon capture and sequestration coal energy (26%). The co-benefits of carbon-price strategy would offset 22% to 42% of the increased electricity costs if the true cost of coal and the social cost of carbon are incorporated. In such a scenario, aggressive attention to research and both technological and financial innovation mechanisms are crucial to enabling the transition at a reasonable cost, along with strong carbon policies.

  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program: A central component of the social safety net

    IRLE Policy Brief, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley, April 2016.