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Simon's research focuses on: economics of children and families, Intergenerational Transfer of Human Capital, and Applied Microeconomics. Overarching themes includes how policy can influence parental behavior, family well being, and child skill acquisition. More recent work focuses on policy based solutions to social problems such as child abuse and domestic violence.
In the News
Studies the behavioral changes caused by marijuana use on sexual activity, contraception, and birth counts by applying a differences-in-differences approach that exploits the variation in timing of the introduction of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) among states. Finds that MMLs cause an increase in sexual activity, a reduction in contraceptive use conditional on having sex, and an increase in number of births.
Uses the rollout of broadband Internet providers as a plausibly exogenous source of variation in Internet access to identify the reduced form effect of Internet use on body weight. Shows that greater broadband coverage increases the body weight of white women and has both positive and negative effects on modifiable adult health behaviors including exercise, smoking, and drinking.
Examines the effect of school traffic pollution on student outcomes by leveraging variation in wind patterns for schools the same distance from major highways. Mentions that students who move from an elementary/middle school that feeds into a “downwind” middle/high school in the same zip code experience decreases in test scores, more behavioral incidents, and more absences.
Estimates the relationship between labor market opportunities and child health using demand-induced changes in mothers’ and fathers’ employment opportunities. Shows improvements in women’s employment opportunities are consistently associated with worse child health, while better labor market conditions for men have positive effects. Mentions how patterns suggest that both income and time inputs matter for child health.
Extends this literature by documenting impacts of stock market fluctuations on a range of child outcomes; including effects on both mental and physical health. Shows a negative effect of a market crash on hospitalizations, child reported health status, sick days from school, and an aggregate health index measure.
Uses quasi-experimental variation from federal tax reform to evaluate the effect of the EITC on infant health outcomes. Finds that the EITC reduces the incidence of low birth weight and increases mean birth weight: a $1,000 treatment-on-the-treated leads to a 2 to 3 percent decline in low birth weight. Suggests that the candidate mechanisms include more prenatal care and less negative health behaviors (smoking).