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Academic Programs

Speaker: Stephanie Hu, Princeton University

Stephanie Hu is a third year a PHD student in Economics at Princeton University.

Title: “Political Responses to Walmart Entry: A Study of Small Business Workers

Abstract: Walmart’s impact on local markets have been studied on several dimensions, most notably its effect on employment and profit. However, given its scale and role in shaping the retail landscape, the question of its political impact has been overlooked in the literature. This work-in-progress investigates the effect of Walmart entry into a local market on political behavior of small business workers. Using Dun and Bradstreet data to select zip codes and Federal Election Commission individual contributions data to generate three political contribution outcome variables, this paper implements an event study design and differences estimator. Small business workers are identified using a novel matching procedure between the two datasets. Preliminary evidence indicates an economically significant increase in contribution activity after Walmart entry, and a larger effect for small business workers than for the sample of all campaign contributors.


Speaker: Matan Kolerman, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Matan Kolerman a visiting student, is a fourth year PHD student in Economics from Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Title: “Political Impact of US Trade Unions”

Abstract: Trade unions are highly influential political actors in the Western world. Yet, it is difficult to identify their numerous effects on national election results. The main challenge is the high correlation between exogenous shocks affecting unions and shocks affecting left-leaning parties. This study leverages the unique context of the United States to address this identification challenge. A union in the US must be formed through elections regulated by the National Labour Relations Board. Regression Discontinuity Design is often used to estimate the effect of unions on various outcomes by using close unionization elections as a source of exogenous variation. However, such a design can’t be used in the context of national election results. Data regarding national elections are not available at the workplace level but only on aggregate geographic units where several close unionization elections could occur in each election cycle. To deal with this challenge, I introduce the novel Regression Discontinuity Aggregation (RDA) methodology that aggregates several discontinuity events–close unionization elections–into a commuting zone level shock that measures the unions’ “Luck” in each zone in each period. This shock is an attractive instrument for newly unionized workers’ flow. Using this methodology, I find that, on average, a newly unionized worker is worth 1.5 new votes for the Democratic party candidate in the following presidential elections. A mechanism analysis indicates that part of the large effect can be attributed to the increase in campaign contributions and to unions strategically allocating political resources in areas with new members.