Craig Palsson's Research

My work focuses on how institutions such as property rights and state capacity evolve in developing countries. A lot of this work looks at institutions in Haiti, contributing to our limited knowledge of its economic history.

Another branch of my work looks at the effects of the rapid adoption of smartphone devices and apps. This work includes research on how children get injured more because their parents are on smartphones and Uber’s effect on public transit.


Working Papers


Incomplete Property Rights and Farm Size: Evidence from Haiti (with Parker Sonnenberg)

    tl;dr: We demonstrate a connection between Haiti's tradition of jointly owned properties and misallocation in agricultural plots, explaining a key feature of Haiti's underdevelopment.

Narrow Paths Out of Poverty and Educational Demand: Evidence from Dominican Baseball (with Brian Marein)

    tl;dr: While many believe that professional baseball recruiting in the Dominican Republic has hurt education, we find no evidence that it decreased educational attainment.

Migration in the Early 20th Century Caribbean: Evidence from Dominican Residency Permits (with Brian Marein)

    tl;dr: We look at migration patterns to the Dominican Republic using new data on over 400,000 work permits.

The Inefficacy of Land Titling Programs: Homesteading in Haiti, 1933—1950 (with Seth Porter) (Revisions Requested, Public Choice)

    tl;dr: A titling program in Haiti failed to generate much interest because onerous requirements prevented people from applying.

VancUber: The Effect of Ride-Hailing on Public Transportation, Congestion, and Traffic Fatalities (with John Cairncross and Jonathan Hall (Revise and resubmit, Canadian Journal of Economics)

    tl;dr: Vancouver banned Uber for 10 years, which lets us observe the long-run effects of Uber on public transit, congestion, and traffic fatalities.



"A Whirligig of Revolutionary Presidents": State Capacity, Political Stability, and Business in Haiti, 1905-1927 European Review of Economic History, accepted

    tl;dr: The American occupation of Haiti immediately ended instability and increased state capacity. In response, more foreigners operated businesses in Haiti.

The Forces of Path Dependence: Haiti's Refugee Camps, 1937–2009. Explorations in Economic History, 89, 2023.

    tl;dr: Even though they were free to migrate, refugees in Haitian camps chose to stay because of access to public land and social networks.

State Capacity, Property Rights, and External Revenues: Haiti, 1932–1949 Journal of Economic History, 83(3): 709-746, 2023.

    tl;dr: In response to WWII, Haiti increased its fiscal capacity, which allowed it to increase its legal capacity.

The Medium-Run Effects of a Foreign Election Intervention: Haiti’s Presidential Elections, 2010-2015 Contemporary Economic Policy 40(2): 369-390. 2022

    tl;dr: The international community intervened in Haiti's election after the earthquake, and this intervention probably discouraged voters from participating in 2015.

Small Farms, Large Transaction Costs: Haiti's Missing Sugar Journal of Economic History, 81(2): 513--548. 2021

    tl;dr: Many Caribbean countries started producing sugar in the early 1900s, but Haiti, the once world-leading sugar producer, did not because of its property rights institutions.

Is Uber a substitute or complement to public transit? (with Jonathan Hall and Joseph Price). Journal of Urban Economics 108: 36-50. 2018

    tl;dr: It looks like Uber complements public transit on average, but the effect varies by city.

Smartphones and Child Injuries Journal of Public Economics Vol. 156, pp. 200-213. 2017

    tl;dr: Smartphones distract parents and their young kids get injured as a result.

Technological change, relative worker productivity, and firm-level substitution: Evidence from the NBA (with Grant Gannaway, Joseph Price, and David Sims) Journal of Sports Economics Vol. 15, 5: pp. 478-496. 2014

    tl;dr: When the NBA introduced the three-point line, the productivity of centers and forwards increased because guards spread the defense.

What Matters in Movie Ratings? Cross-country Differences in which Content Influence Mature Movie Ratings. (with Joseph Price and Doug Gentile) Journal of Children and Media, Vol. 8 , Iss. 3, pp 240-252. 2014

    tl;dr: Countries differ in how they restrict movie content for children.

Taxing the Opposition: Cactus League Attendance and the Efficiency of the ‘Cubs Tax,’ (with Michael Davis and Joseph Price) International Journal of Sport Finance, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp 157-17. 2013

    tl;dr: Cities always choose terrible ways to finance new stadiums.

Ratings and Revenues: Evidence from Movie Ratings, (with Joseph Price and Jared Shores) Contemporary Economic Policy, Vol. 31, Issue 1, pp 13-21. 2013

    tl;dr: Movies that just barely got an R-rating make less box office revenue than movies that just barely got a PG-13.