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.

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Working Papers

Hill, Alexandra E. "The Minimum Wage and Productivity: A Case Study of California Strawberry Pickers." (Job Market Paper) Link

In this paper, I study how minimum wages and piece rate wages interact to affect worker productivity. In the United States, the minimum wage sets a lower bound on earnings of piece rate workers. In low-wage industries, piece rates and productivity levels often result in the minimum wage acting as a binding earnings floor. Here, I develop a simple theoretical framework to demonstrate how an increase in this binding wage floor can cause workers to reduce effort and thus decrease productivity. I then give empirical evidence of this prediction using the payroll records of strawberry harvesters on one large farm in Northern California. Using a fixed effects model, I estimate the productivity change of the average worker in response to increases in an employer-set minimum wage. Results support the theoretical predictions and indicate that a three percent increase in the minimum wage causes the average worker to decrease productivity by seven percent.

Hill, Alexandra E. and Burkhardt, Jesse "The Role of Low Productivity Workers and Gender in Workplace Peer Effects." Link

This article presents evidence on peer effect heterogeneity among U.S. agricultural workers. On average, we find that a 10% increase in peer productivity increases fo- cal worker productivity by 2.3%. This effect is significantly modified by the ability and gender of workers and peers. Exceptionally slow workers are least responsive to peers and have pronounced negative spillovers on the productivity of their cowork- ers – their presence decreases productivity by 2%. Contrarily, exceptionally fast work- ers do not unilaterally affect their peers. Male workers are more responsive to male peers than female peers, and vice versa; female workers are more responsive to fe- male peers.

Published Work

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