The Public Policy and Applied Social Science Seminar (PPASS) series invites leading scholars from UCLA and universities across the nation to present research on a range of important issues, including crime, labor markets, human capital and education, inequality and poverty, the environment, public finance, political economy, urban economics, health care reform, and economic development. Featured research typically uses rigorous methods to address issues of deep policy relevance that are of interest to applied social science faculty and students on campus.

Organizer: Emily Weisburst

All events take place on Thursdays from 12:30 – 2:00 pm. Some events are co-sponsored and will take place outside of the Public Affairs Building. Check the event listing for the location.

We will post the seminar schedule for Spring 2023 in the coming months after finalizing next year’s speakers.

Prior Year Schedules


Adam Goodman (University of Illinois at Chicago)

“The Deportation Machine”

Lucy Martin (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

Marketing Taxation? Experimental Evidence on Enforcement and Bargaining in Malawian Markets

Sandra González-Bailón (University of Pennsylvania – Annenberg School of Communication)

“The Spread of Information on Social Media During Contentious Political Events”

Karletta Chief (University of Arizona)

“Risk Perception of Navajo Communities Along the San Juan River Following the Gold King Mine Spill”

Olivier Deschenes (University of California, Santa Barbara)

“The Private and External Costs of Germany’s Nuclear Phase-Out”

Erica Field (Duke University)

“A Signal to End Child Marriage: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Bangladesh”

Jesse Rothstein (University of California, Berkeley)

“Demystifying College Costs: How Nudges Can and Can’t Help (Joint Work with Elizabeth Linos and Vikash Reddy)”

Laurence Ralph (Princeton University)

“Global Reckonings with Police Torture”

Jens Ludwig (University of Chicago – Harris School of Public Policy)

“Implementation as Intervention: Management Quality and Policing Outcomes”


Martin Gilens (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs)

“Changing the Rules: Independent Expenditures and Public Policy in the US States”

Nora Pankratz (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs)

“Labor Market Frictions and Adaptation to Climate Change”

Emily Ryo (USC Gould School of Law)

“Represented But Unequal: The Contingent Effect of Legal Representation in Removal Proceedings”

Randall Akee (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs)

Immigrants’ Earnings Growth and Return Migration from the U.S.: Examining their Determinants using Linked Survey and Administrative Data

Kate Baldwin (Yale University)

“Accountability and Inclusion in Customary Institutions: Evidence from a Village-Level Experiment in Zimbabwe (with Eric Mvukiyehe and Shylock Muyengwa)”

Kaivan Munshi (Yale University)

“Economic Development, the Nutrition Trap and Metabolic Disease (Joint with Nancy Luke, Anu Oommen, and Swapnil Singh)”

Crystal Yang (Harvard Law School)
“Fear and the Safety Net: Evidence from Secure Communities (with Marcella Alsan)”

Natalie Bau (University of California, Los Angeles)

“Private Schooling, Learning, and Civic Values in a Low-Income Country (joint with Tahir Andrabi, Jishnu Das, and Asim Khwaja)”


R. Kent Weaver (Georgetown University)

“Blame Generating and Welfare State Reform”

Oriana Bandiera (The London School of Economics and Political Science)

“Incentives and the Allocations of Authority in Organizations: A Field Experiment with Bureaucrats”

Leonard Wantchekon (Princeton University)

“The Strength of Weak Ties: Indirect Exposure to Colonial Education and Intergenerational Mobility in Benin”

Joshua Graff Zivin (University of California, San Diego)

“Incentivizing Learning-By-Doing: The Role of Compensation Schemes ”

Jennifer Doleac (Texas A&M University)

“The Effects of DNA Databases on the Deterrence and Detection of Offenders”

Emily Owens (University of California, Irvine)

“How Valuable are Civil Liberties? Evidence from Gang Injunctions, Crime, and Housing Prices in Southern California”

Amalia Miller (University of Virginia)

“Does Workplace Competition Increase Labor Supply? Evidence from a Field Experiment”

Pascaline Dupas (Stanford University)
“The Incidence of Public Subsidies to Private Hospitals under Weak Governance: Evidence from India (Joint with Radhika Jain)”

Joshua Tucker (New York University)

“The Mechanisms of Protest Recruitment through Social Media Networks”

Damon Jones (University of Chicago)

“What Do Workplace Wellness Programs Do? Evidence from the Illinois Workplace Wellness Study”

Winter 2019

Matthew Gentzkow (Stanford University)

“The Welfare Effects of Social Media”

Fall 2018

Dalton Conley (Princeton University)

“Social Science in the Age of Genomics”

Michael Conley (Center for Global Development)

“Immigration Restrictions as Active Labor Market Policy: Evidence from the Mexican Bracero Exclusion”


Andrew Oswald (University of Warwick)

“The Midlife Crisis in Humans and Other Animals”

Emmanuel Saez (University of California, Berkeley)

“Inequality Around the World: Evidence and Implications”

Sandy Black (University of Texas at Austin)

“Poor Little Rich Kids? The Determinants of the Intergenerational Transmission of Wealth”

Aaron Panofsky (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs)

“When Genetics Challenges a Racist’s Identity: Genetic Ancestry Testing Among White Nationalists”

Melanie Wasserman (UCLA Anderson School of Management)

“Gender Differences in Politician Persistence”

Daron Acemoglu (MIT)

“The Narrow Corridor to Liberty: The Red Queen and the Struggle of State Against Society”

Aliya Saperstein (Stanford University)

“Fluidity or Mobility? Exploring Asymmetry in Race and Status Transitions with Linked Census Data”

Sara Heller (University of Michigan)
“Rethinking the Benefits of Youth Employment Programs: The Heterogeneous Effects of Summer Jobs”

Jack Goldstone (George Mason University)

“Demography and Democracy: What the Future Holds”

James Robinson (University of Chicago)

“Social Structure and Conflict: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa”

Claudia Olivetti (Boston College)

“Social Norms, Labor Market Opportunities, and the Marriage Gap for Skilled Women”


Frederico Finan (UC Berkeley)

Money and Politics: Estimating the Effects of Campaign Spending Limits on Political Entry and Selection

Gautnam Rao (Harvard University)

Status Goods: Experimental Evidence from Platinum Credit Cards

Rohini Pande (Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University)

E-governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India

Amy Finkelstein (MIT)

The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: What Did It Find and What Does that Mean?

Jennifer Larson (New York University)

From Chatter to Action: How Social Networks Inform and Motivate in Rural Uganda

Michael Stoll (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs)

Do Housing Choice Voucher Recipients Import Crime?

Antonio Bento (USC Price School of Public Policy)

A New Approach to Measuring Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation

Jesse Shapiro (Brown University)

Measuring Polarization in High-Dimensional Data: Method and Application to Congressional Speech

Margaret Jones (US Census Bureau)

Refund Anticipation Products and the Improper Payment of the EITC

Edward Walker (UCLA)

The Situation Room: Stigma Management and the Claims-Making of Contested Industry Groups

Martin Gilens (Princeton University)

Economic Inequality and Political Power in America

Thad Dunning (UC Berkeley)

Is Paying Taxes Habit Forming? Theory and Evidence from Uruguay


Day Manoli (University of Texas at Austin)

Reminders & Recidivism: Evidence from Tax Filing & EITC Participation among Low-Income Nonfilers

Randall Akee (UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs)

How Does Household Income Affect Child Personality Traits and Behaviors?

Lucas Davis (Berkeley Haas School of Business)

Are Fuel Economy Standards Regressive?

Isaac Martin (UC San Diego)

Tax Policy and Tax Protest in 19 Rich Democracies, 1980-2010

Johannes Haushofer (Princeton University)

Happier, Not Healthier: A Randomized Experiment on Health Insurance Provision in Kenya

Leah Boustan (UCLA)

Moving to Opportunity in the Early Twentieth Century: Evidence from the Industrial Removal Office

Elizabeth Cascio (Dartmouth College)

How Much Does Amnesty Stretch the Safety Net?  Evidence from the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986

Paco Martorell (UC Davis School of Education)

Helped Up By Holding Back? New Evidence on the Impact of Grade Retention

Till von Wachter (UCLA)

Firming Up Inequality

Mark Kleinman (UCLA Luskin)

“Freedom from Mass Incarceration”

Sue Dynarski (University of Michigan)

“Success for All? Estimating the Effect of a Mandatory College-Prep Curriculum in Michigan”

Jon Guryan (Northwestern University)

“Not Too Late: Improving Academic Outcomes for Disadvantaged Youth”

Matt Kahn (UCLA Luskin)

“The Political Economy of State and Local Investment in Pre-K Programs”

James Sallee (University of Chicago)

“The Implications of Heterogeneity for the Regulation of Energy-Consuming Durable Goods”

Ebonya Washington (Yale University)

“Why Did the Democrats Lose the South? Bringing Old Data to a New Debate”

Adriana Lleras-Muney (UCLA)

“Party on: the returns to social skills in the labor market”

Rucker Johnson (UC Berkeley)
“The Effects of School Spending on Educational & Economic Outcomes: Evidence from School Finance Reforms”