You can download my CV here.
Published and Forthcoming Work
Ellen, Ingrid G. and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. (Forthcoming). “Gentrification and Fair Housing: Does Gentrification Further Integration?” Housing Policy Debate
Ellen, Ingrid G., Michael Suher, and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. 2019. “Neighbors and Networks: The Role of Social Interactions on the Residential Choices of Housing Choice Voucher Holders.” Journal of Housing Economics 43: 56-71
Balcells, Laia and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. 2018. “Using a Natural Experiment to Estimate the Electoral Consequences of Terrorist Attacks.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
– Press coverage: Washington Post, The Print
– Replication files: Harvard Dataverse
Heissel, Jennifer A., Patrick Sharkey, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, Kathryn Grant, and Emma K. Adam. 2018. “Violence and Vigilance: The Acute Effects of Community Violent Crime on Sleep and Cortisol.” Child Development: 89(4): 323-331
Sharkey, Patrick, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa, and Delaram Takyar. 2017. “Community and the Crime Decline: The Causal Effect of Local Nonprofits on Violent Crime.” American Sociological Review 82(6): 1214–1240
– Press coverage: NYTimes, Minnesota Post, Bloomberg, Curbed
– Replication files: Harvard Dataverse
Work in Progress
Torrats-Espinosa, Gerard. “Crime and Inequality in Academic Achievement Across School Districts in the United States.” Revise and resubmit
Abstract: This study investigates the effect of violent crime on school district-level achievement in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. The research design exploits geographic variation in achievement and crime across 337 school districts and temporal variation across seven birth cohorts of children born between 1996 and 2002. To generate causal estimates of the effect of crime on achievement, the identification strategy leverages exogenous shocks to crime rates arising from the availability of federal funds to hire police officers in the local police departments where the school districts operate. Results show that birth cohorts who entered the school system when violent crime was lower score higher in ELA by the end of eighth grade, relative to birth cohorts attending schools in the same district but who entered the school system when crime rates were substantially higher. A 10 percent decline in violent crime raises eighth-grade ELA achievement in the district by .04 standard deviations. Analyses by race/ethnicity and gender indicate that black children, Hispanic children, and boys experienced the largest gains in ELA achievement as violent crime dropped. The effects on Mathematics achievement are smaller and imprecisely estimated. These findings extend our understanding of the geography of educational opportunity in the United States and reinforce the idea that understanding inequalities in academic achievement requires evidence on what happens inside schools as well as what happens outside of schools.
Torrats-Espinosa, Gerard. “Business Improvement Districts and Crime: Evidence from Chicago”
Abstract: This study combines administrative and survey data to estimate the impact of Chicago’s business improvement districts, known as Special Service Areas (SSAs), on crime rates and on indicators of community well-being and social cohesion. Results from a difference-in-differences approach and from a synthetic control approach suggest that SSAs created between 1994 and 2017 led to reductions in homicides, robberies, burglaries, and auto-thefts. Crime reductions in the areas where the SSAs operate did not displace crime to neighboring areas. The analysis of survey data reveals that individuals living in the neighborhoods where the SSAs were created reported lower rates of victimization. These findings are consistent with prior evidence from other cities and shed light on the role that community organizations have played in reducing crime rates in the United States.
Torrats-Espinosa, Gerard and Patrick Sharkey. “The Fall of Violence and the Reconfiguration of Urban Neighborhoods.”
Abstract: Over the past few decades, American cities have undergone dramatic change driven in large part by two major trends: the fall of violence, and the rise of urban inequality. Despite the attention given to each of these trends, there has been little research designed to assess how they are related to each other. In particular, we know of no research that has generated causal evidence on the impact of declining violence on economic segregation, or the degree to which the poor live apart from the rich. In this study, we present evidence on the impact of the crime drop on economic segregation in 645 cities in the United States between 1990 and 2015, using temporal shocks to city crime rates to identify causal effects. Our findings indicate that while the crime decline has not overturned the trend toward rising economic segregation, it has slowed its pace—in cities where crime declined more substantially, the segregation of poor households has grown more slowly or not at all. Our results suggest that falling violence reduces the segregation of poverty not by displacing poor residents, but rather by inducing an inflow of residents who are more likely to be white and have a college education into neighborhoods that had the highest poverty rates in 1990. However, in cities with tight housing markets where vacancy rates were low in 1990, we do find evidence that falling violence also leads to migration of poor households out of high-poverty neighborhoods, a finding that could reflect a process of gentrification and displacement of the poor. Although the rise of urban inequality has continued even as violence has fallen, the crime decline has had its greatest impact on concentrated poverty, which has long been thought of as one of the most problematic and harmful dimensions of urban inequality.
Ellen, Ingrid G. and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. “High-Cost Cities, Gentrification, and Voucher Use.”
Abstract: Over the last decade and a half, rents have risen throughout much of the country, with the median gross rent rising seven percent nationally between 2001 and 2014, even after controlling for inflation. One potential tool to protect low-income tenants from rising rents is the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. Using restricted administrative data on the voucher program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), we examine whether larger increases in median rents in a metropolitan area are associated with more frequent moves among voucher households, higher rent burdens, and higher neighborhood poverty. Where possible, we compare the changes experienced by voucher holders to those experienced by the broader set of poor renters to learn if vouchers help to buffer the effects of rising rents. We find that rising rents in a metropolitan area are associated with a slight increase in the likelihood of moving and a slight increase in rent-to-income ratios among voucher holders in that metropolitan area. The increases in rent burden are concentrated among those with initial rents close to the voucher payment standard. Poor renters more generally see much larger increases in rent-to-income ratios as market rents rise. However, perhaps surprisingly, we find that voucher holders end up, if anything, in lower poverty neighborhoods as median rents rise in their metropolitan area. The magnitudes are again small, however, and similar to those experienced by other poor families. Further, the reduction in poverty is experienced only by voucher holders living in central cities, suggesting it may be driven by greater gentrification of urban neighborhoods in metropolitan areas with rising rents.
De Filippo, Alexandra, Michael Kaemingk, Katherine Rodrigues, and Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. “Reducing Teachers’ Attitudes Toward Corporal Punishment. Experimental Evidence from a Tanzanian Refugee Camp.”