The Effects of Universal Free Lunch Provision on Student Achievement: Evidence from South Korea

This paper examines the impact of the Universal Free Lunch Program (UFLP) on student achievement in South Korea. I leverage the staggered rollout of the UFLP across South Korean provinces and employ both difference-in-differences and IV strategies. Taking advantage of rich school-level data, I find that providing free lunch to all students leads to modest improvements in academic achievement on average. However, the effects are heterogeneous across the achievement distribution, with relatively large gains for those at below-basic levels. I additionally test for heterogeneous effects across schools in higher and lower-income areas. To explore potential mechanisms, I discuss both students’ and schools’ responses that could have led to improvements in academic outcomes.

Presented at: Association for Mentoring & Inclusion in Economics (AMIE) 1st Workshop in Applied Microeconomics (2021), Western Economic Association International (WEAI) March Virtual international conference (2021), WEAI Virtual 96th Annual Conference (2021, scheduled)

Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Expanding Cash Welfare (joint with Matthew Freedman) [SSRN]

We study the labor supply and consumption responses to cash assistance delivered through the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program in the United States. Exploiting a sharp increase in cash benefit generosity for low-income single-parent families in New Hampshire due to a legislative revision to payment calculations, we implement difference-in-differences and triple-differences to estimate the impacts of greater benefits on work behavior as well as on food expenditures and food security. Our results suggest that more generous cash assistance reduces labor supply among likely TANF-eligible individuals, but also increases family food spending and reduces the incidence of food insecurity. Our findings speak both to the moral hazard costs and to the standard-of-living improvements associated with expanded cash assistance in an era in which cash welfare is at historically low levels, is time limited, and imposes work requirements.

Presented at: APPAM Fall Research Conference (2020), Southern Economic Association 90th Annual Meeting (2020), Population Association of America Annual Meeting (2021), The Society of Labor Economists 21st Annual Meeting (2021)

The Effects of Old-Age Pension Receipt on Elderly Employment and Health: Evidence from South Korea

Public old-age pensions are an important component of the social safety net in many countries. The objective of this paper is to estimate the causal effect of pension receipt on employment and health by exploiting exogenous changes in the full retirement age under South Korea’s public pension system. South Korea is experiencing one of the most rapid and severe aging society problems, which makes it a good example for studying this issue. When I account for the endogeneity of employment and health with respect to pension receipt, I find that receiving a pension decreases employment and improves self-reported health.

Presented at: APPAM Fall Research Conference (2020), Southern Economic Association 90th Annual Meeting (2020)