Zach Freitas-Groff

Welcome! I am a PhD candidate in Economics at Stanford University.

My fields are public economics, political economy, and behavioral/experimental economics. I use a mix of applied, experimental, and historical methods. My primary current research interest is the impact of policies on future generations, and I have an additional interest in the economics of animal welfare. These interests have led me to work on long-term political dynamics and social preferences.

zgroff@stanford.edu | 579 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-6072

DISSERTATION COMMITTEE
Prof. B. Douglas Bernheim (Primary)
Economics Department, Stanford University
650-725-8732
bernheim@stanford.edu
Prof. Matthew Gentzkow
Economics Department, Stanford University
650-721-8375
gentzkow@stanford.edu
Prof. Caroline Hoxby
Economics Department, Stanford University
650-723-7075
choxby@stanford.edu
Prof. Ran Abramitzky
Economics Department, Stanford University
650-723-9276
ranabr@stanford.edu

Working Papers

|
PDF
Policy choices sometimes appear stubbornly persistent, even when they become politically unpopular or economically damaging. This paper offers the first systematic empirical investigation of how persistent policy choices are, defined as whether an electorate’s or legislature’s decisions affect whether a policy is in place decades later. I create a new dataset that tracks the historical record of more than 800 policies that were the subjects of close U.S. state referendums since 1900. In a regression discontinuity design, I estimate that passing a referendum increases the chance a corresponding policy is operative 20, 40, or even 100 years later by over 40 percentage points. I collect additional data on U.S. Congressional legislation and international referendums and use existing data on state legislation to document similar policy persistence for a range of institutional environments, cultures, and topics. I develop a theoretical model to distinguish between possible causes of persistence, and I present evidence that persistence arises because of how rarely policies overcome procedural barriers to reform. Calibrating my model suggests that many policies remain in place—or not—regardless of popular support.
  • with Ben Grodeck, Oliver Hauser, and Johannes Lohse
    |
    PDF
  • with B. Douglas Bernheim, Nina Buchmann, Sebastián Otero
    |
    PDF

Work in Progress

  • with Karan Makkar
    |
    Slides
  • with Sandro Ambuehl, B. Douglas Bernheim, and Tony Fan
    |
    Slides
  • with Carl Meyer
    |
    Slides

Publications