May 27, 2020

Announcing the 2020 John R. Meyer Dissertation Fellows

CAMBRIDGE, MA - Two Harvard doctoral students have been named 2020 John R. Meyer Dissertation Fellows by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies:

Lauren Russell is a PhD candidate in Public Policy with a focus on labor economics and public finance. Her research focuses on the intersections of poverty, race, inequality, and gender with a particular focus on neighborhood sorting, neighborhood effects, and US housing policy. Her Meyer Fellowship will help support her thesis research on “Criminal Record Information and Access to Opportunity: Using the 2010 CORI Reform as a Natural Experiment Skill-Based Sorting into Neighborhoods and Skills.” This project uses a major change in Massachusetts laws governing the release of information about criminal records to examine the causal effect of a criminal record on an individual’s ability to move to neighborhoods with high social mobility measures, low crime rates, and better schools. It is notable because while the vast majority of the literature such individuals has focused on employment and hiring outcomes, very little research has been conducted on how landlords, in both public and private rental markets, respond to reforms of criminal record systems and how this, in turn, impacts access to higher opportunity neighborhoods. Consequently, this project will provide some of the first empirical evidence on how landlord decision-making regarding criminal records effects mobility and access to high opportunity neighborhoods.

Gregor Schubert is a PhD candidate in Business Economics, whose research interests include labor economics, urban economics, real estate, and corporate finance. His Meyer Fellowship will support his dissertation research on “Migration Networks and the Geography of Housing Booms.” This work explores the ways that persistent migration patterns between cities affect housing markets, such as when high-skilled workers who move to booming cities drive up housing costs, which in turn displaces low-skilled workers, who in turn migrate to other cities. The fellowship will allow Schubert to further his efforts to estimate the impact that migration flows have on local house prices and to quantify the degree to which house price dynamics in second-tier US cities during the housing boom of the early 2000s can be explained by spillovers from larger cities. This research will fill an important gap in the existing literature by explaining the heterogeneity in house price dynamics across US cities and providing a mechanism for observed “contagion” dynamics, by which house price booms in particular cities seem to spread to nearby cities.

About the Meyer Fellowship

Meyer Fellows receive a stipend from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and access to the Center’s resources and interdisciplinary network of scholars and practitioners. Fellows are expected to produce a working paper and to present their work in a Housing Research Seminar at the Center.

The fellowship honors the memory of the late John R. Meyer, who chaired the Center's Faculty Committee from 1997 to 2003 and served as its Interim Director from 1996 to 1998. One of the leading urban economists of his generation, Meyer was the James W. Harpel Professor of Capital Formation and Economic Growth at the Harvard Kennedy School. He also served as president of the National Bureau of Economic Research, as a professor at Harvard Business School, and as a professor of economics at both Harvard and Yale.

Media Contact: Kerry Donahue, (617) 495-7640, [email protected]