Research

I am an applied economist with research interests in agricultural, labor, and public economics. My current research focuses on factors that affect the productivity, labor supply, and health of U.S. agricultural workers. This work has direct implications for U.S. agricultural producers, and is also relevant for policy makers and employers in other low-wage industries.

Working Papers

Hill, A.E. "Wage Floors, Performance Pay, and Productivity." (under review) Link

Many industries pay workers for performance but guarantee a base pay. This paper studies the productivity effects of this compensation policy in a setting where employees are not fired for working too slowly due to industry-wide labor shortages. A theoretical model shows how increasing the earnings floor in this setting can cause workers to decrease productivity. In an empirical application, I find that three percent increases in the wage floor cause the average worker to decrease productivity by seven percent. Decreases in productivity are largest for medium-productivity workers who earned just above the wage floor prior to its increase.

Castillo, M., Hill, A.E. and Hertz, T. "A Test of the Validity of Imputed Legal Immigration Status: Evidence from the National Agricultural Workers Survey."

We assess the validity and utility of the logical imputation method, a well-established technique for imputing the legal documentation status of U.S. immigrants in survey data. As a first step, we validate this technique by implementing it in the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS), a nationally representative survey of U.S. crop workers that includes a self-reported measure of legal documentation status. By this standard, the imputation algorithm correctly identifies the documentation status of 77% of farmworkers. The algorithm is better at correctly flagging undocumented workers (88% are correctly classified) than documented (57% are correctly classified). Among all variables used to impute documentation status we find that Medicaid participation is the most problematic because many undocumented immigrants _report_ participating in Medicaid. Due to increases in Medicaid enrollment driven by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, many more immigrants, whether documented or not, have been categorized as legal in recent years. We show that using Medicaid criteria to impute documentation status around this time distorts estimates of the size of the legal and undocumented immigrant populations over time and across space. We explore the implications of this distortion for two prior studies that compare the wages and labor supply of imputed legal and undocumented immigrants. We conclude that including Medicaid criteria in the imputation algorithm can have severe consequences for research findings in some cases but not in others. We find that the imputation algorithm we study performs relatively well without the Medicaid criteria and recommend that analysts be cautious and intentional when deciding whether to include the criteria. We suggest that researchers applying these algorithms consider the sensitivity and robustness of their findings to the inclusion of Medicaid criteria.

Hill, A.E. and Beatty, T.K.M. "Haste Makes Waste: Evidence on Speed and Quality Trade-offs in the Workplace."

Understanding the determinants of labor productivity is central to economics, but empirical work often considers a single aspect of productivity --- speed. This paper asks whether focusing on speed misses spillovers to quality. Using novel high frequency data on the speed and quality of strawberry harvesters, we find evidence to support the old adage that haste makes waste: increases in worker speed are accompanied with decreases in the quality of their work. We find that peer speed and wage changes increase worker speed and decrease output quality; mechanisms that increase speed by ten percent cause quality to fall by 1.5 to 1.7 percent.

## Published and Forthcoming

Picciotto, Isabelle, Beatty, T.K.M., and Hill, A.E. (2022). “Estimating the Nonfatal Injury Undercount in Agriculture from 2004--2019.” (forthcoming at the Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health)

Alexandra E. Hill, Ornelas, I., and Taylor, E. (2021). “Agricultural Labor Supply.” The Annual Review of Resource Economics, 13. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-resource-101620-080426

Alexandra E. Hill and Martin, P.L. (2021). “Covid-19 and Farm Workers” Western Economics Forum, 19(1). DOI: https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/311308

Alexandra E. Hill and Burkhardt, J. (2021). “Peers in the Field: The Role of Low Productivity Workers and Gender in Peer Effects among Agricultural Workers.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 103(3), 790-811. DOI: 10.1111/ajae.12192

Wallander, Steven, Roger Claassen, Alexandra E. Hill and Jacob R. Fooks “Working Lands Conservation Contract Modifications: Patterns in Dropped Practices.” Economic Research Report No. 262. USDA ERS, Washington, D.C. Link

Hill, Alexandra E. and Charlotte Ambrozek “Can CalFresh Cut Costs and Better Serve California's Agricultural Counties?” ARE Update 21(5) (2018): 9-11. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. Link

Hill, Alexandra E. “Where is the Social Safety Net for California’s Agricultural Workforce?” ARE Update 20(2) (2016): 9-11. University of California Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. Link

Hill, Alexandra E. and Barrett Kirwan “Factors Affecting the Fertilizer-use Decision of Maize Farmers in Ghana.” Journal of Sustainable Development, 2015 8(9). Link