I am a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Sydney Business School, supervised by Professor Susan Thorp. I am also an associate investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR). My research interests are in household finance and public economics, focusing on personal finance decision making, retirement security, and insurance regulation.

I received my Ph.D. in Risk and Insurance at the Wisconsin School of Business, University of Wisconsin–Madison (committee: Professors Ty Leverty (chair), J. Michael Collins, Anita Mukherjee, Joan Schmit, Justin Sydnor). 

Curriculum Vitae

Peer-Reviewed Publications

1. Medicaid and Long-Term Care: The Effects of Penalizing Strategic Asset Transfers (with Anita Mukherjee) (Journal of Risk and Insurance, 2021)

Medicaid provides a critical source of insurance for long-term care, and individuals may strategically offload assets (typically to children) to meet the means-tested eligibility requirement. In this paper, we quantify the extent of such behavior using variation in the penalty for improper parent-to-child transfers induced by the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. We estimate difference-in-differences models based on the hypothesis that only individuals with high levels of nursing home risk (high risk) will alter transfers because of the Act. We find that over a two-year horizon, high risk individuals reduced transfers to children on the extensive margin by 11 percent and that the average total amount of transfers decreased by $4,860. The results hold only for coupled respondents. We also conduct a triple-differences analysis to examine heterogeneity with financial literacy and find that even those with a low level of financial literacy responded to the penalty.

Presented at: CEPAR-UNSW Sydney (2019); ARIA Annual Meeting, Chicago (by coauthor Anita Mukherjee, 2018); APRIA-IRFRC Joint Conference, Singapore (2018).

2. Building Financial and Health Literacy at Older Ages: The Role of Online Information (with Hessam Bavafa and Anita Mukherjee) (Journal of Consumer Affairs, 2019)

Improving financial and health literacy is an important step in reducing economic vulnerability in older age, yet the means by which individuals accumulate these types of human capital remains an open question. This paper evaluates the impact of online search activities on the levels of financial and health literacy. We find that using the internet for such information increases literacy significantly: doing so frequently (versus not at all) increases financial literacy by 16 percent and health literacy by 12 percent. Our results are robust to alternative measures of financial literacy. They are also robust to an instrumental variable approach using other web skills such as email use to proxy for how individuals use the internet.

Presented at: JCA/FLEC Research Symposium (2019).

Working Papers

3. Compliance Costs of Contract Regulation (with Ty Leverty)

Regulation of contracts plays an important role in U.S. financial markets. We estimate the costs of complying with contract regulation by exploiting the rich cross-sectional and time-series variation in regulation in the U.S. property-liability (P/L) insurance industry. We find that the costs of complying with stringent contract regulation are significantly greater than the costs of complying with flexible contract regulation, with the estimate of the difference being 3.1 percent of the general expenses for the average insurer in each line of business and year. Our estimates imply that stringent contract regulation increases expenses in the industry by $1.8 billion per year. The compliance costs are higher in personal lines of insurance. The burden of these costs falls unevenly on insurers, with the regulatory effects isolated to the firms writing less than $5 million in premiums in a line of business per year.

Presented at: SWFA Annual Meeting (2019); University of Wisconsin–La Crosse (2018); Research Blitz, Wisconsin School of Business (2018); ARIA Annual Meeting, Chicago (2018); APRIA-IRFRC Joint Conference, Singapore (2018).

4. Does Technology Adoption Save Regulatory Compliance Costs? (with Ty Leverty)

We study whether digital technology streamlines the regulatory process and reduces the costs of complying with regulation. To identify the effect of digital technology on regulatory compliance costs, we leverage a quasi-experimental policy change which mandates the use of an internet-based flow management tool that enables insurers and regulators to exchange policy form and rate ling information. We find that digitization lowers the costs of complying with regulation. The average insurer per line of business and year in the highest quartile regarding the proportion of business under the mandate saves 4.8 percent of general expenses. Our results also suggest a fixed cost of adopting the technology, with larger cost-saving accruing to firms that adopt the new technology more widely.

Presented at: FIRN annual meeting (2019); Australian National University (2019), ARIA Annual Meeting, San Francisco (by coauthor Ty Leverty2019); EALE-The Geneva Association Joint Seminar, Milan (2019)

Work in Progress

5. Impact of Mortgage Brokers on Consumer Preferences and Perceptions (with Sol Chung, Julie Agnew, Hazel Bateman, Christine Eckert, Fedor Iskhakov, and Susan Thorp)

We study the influence of brokers on consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for home mortgage attributes in a choice experiment. We analyze the data with a mixed logit model with hierarchical parameters in the WTP space (Train and Weeks 2005). The hierarchical parameter structure accounts for heterogeneity in consumer preferences and capability, and the WTP space approach enables us to examine consumer preferences for each mortgage attribute by providing the estimate of WTP at the individual-attribute level. To explore the impact of brokerage experience by socio-economic background, we group the sample into three clusters. The first cluster consists of consumers who have not used mortgage brokers; the second cluster includes broker users who are older and have more previous mortgage experience; the third one represents broker users who are younger and more educated with less mortgage experience. We then estimate the association between the consumer cluster and preferences for mortgage attributes in our model.

Overall, consumers prefer mortgages from “Big 4” lenders in Australia, shorter  loan terms, variable (versus fixed or hybrid) interest rates, lower establishment fees, principle and interest (versus interest-only) repayment schedules and the flexibility of early repayments. Compared to non-advised consumers, older broker-advised consumers have a stronger preference to avoid higher establishment fees. Younger and more educated broker-advised consumers will accept longer loan terms, place less value on principal-and-interest repayment schedules and the flexibility of early repayments.

Presented at: Experimental Finance Conference (2021 scheduled); Sydney Experimental and Behavioral Research Group Seminars (2021 scheduled); Philip Brown Seminar, The University of Western Australia (2021 scheduled); 28th Colloquium on Pensions and Retirement Research, UNSW Sydney (2020)

6. Determinants of Early-Access to Retirement Savings: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic (with Hazel Bateman, Isabella Dobrescu, Ben R. Newell, and Susan Thorp)

Presented at: ARIA Annual Meeting (2021 scheduled); APRIA Annual Meeting (2021 scheduled); 28th Colloquium on Pensions and Retirement Research, UNSW Sydney (by coauthor Ben R. Newell, 2020)

7. Political Uncertainty and Insurance Prices (with Ty Leverty)

We examine the effects of political uncertainty on insurance prices using the cross-sectional and time-series heterogeneity in the exogenous electoral cycles of US insurance regulators and governors.

Presented at:  WRIEC virtual conference (2020); The University of Sydney Finance Discipline Brownbag (2020); SWFA Annual Meeting (2019)

8. Insurance Regulation and Delay in Claims Payment (with Anastasia Ivantsova and Ty Leverty)

Other Publications

9. Annuities: Whose Cup of Tea?, Retirement Income Institute Literature Review, December 2020.

10. 20K now or 50K later? What’s driving people’s decision to withdraw their super? (with Hazel Bateman, Robbie Campo, David Constable, Isabella Dobrescu, Ailsa Goodwin, Ben R. Newell, and Susan Thorp), CEPAR Industry Report 2020/1.

11. Reverse Mortgages (with J. Michael Collins and Anita Mukherjee), entry prepared for the Encyclopedia of Gerontology and Population Aging (section: Social Security and Pension Systems), Springer, March 2019.

Referee Service & Other Academic Activities
  • Referee, Journal of Consumer Affairs
  • Referee, Journal of Pension Economics and Finance
  • Referee, Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning
  • Ad hoc Referee, The Journal of the Economics of Ageing
  • Hagen Travel Award Committee, American Risk and Insurance Association, 2020
  • Invited Participant, FMA Doctoral Student Consortium, San Diego, 2018
  • Invited Participant, Ph.D. Student Research Symposium, University of Georgia, 2018
  • Annual CEAR-Huebner Summer Risk Institute, Georgia State University, 2017
  • Invited Participant, Price Theory Summer Camp, University of Chicago, 2016

Teaching and Supervision
  1. Course Coordinator and Lecturer, BUSS4001 Business Honours Research Methods, University of Sydney Business School, 2021
    • Foundational research design and methodology class for Business Honours students
  2. Honours Thesis Supervisor, University of Sydney Business School, 2021
  3. Teaching Assistant, RMI 300 Principles of Risk Management, Wisconsin School of Business, Fall 2018-Spring 2019
    • Core course for the Risk Management and Insurance major
    • Developed weekly in-class and homework exercise and exam questions
  4. Lecturer, ACT SCI 300 Actuarial Science Methods I,Wisconsin School of Business, Spring 2017
    • University-wide Exam P (Probability) review course for undergraduates
    • Developed the syllabus, lecture notes, weekly in-class and homework exercise
  5. Head Teaching Assistant, GEN BUS 306 Business Analytics I, Wisconsin School of Business, Fall 2017
    • Core course on analytical skills for business undergraduates
    • Planned weekly discussion sections and coordinated fellow TAs in teaching
  6. Teaching Assisant, GEN BUS 306 Business Analytics I, Wisconsin School of Business, Spring 2015-Fall 2016
    • Received Dean’s letter of recognition for designing and implementing an auto-grading system of case projects for 600+ students each semester
    • Developed weekly discussion sections and taught 500+ students in 5 semesters

Actuarial Exams
  1. Probability (P);
  2. Financial Mathematics (FM);
  3. Models for Financial Economics (MFE);
  4. Life Contingencies and Statistics (3L)

Industrial Experience

Actuarial Consulting Analyst, Milliman Inc., Shanghai, China, 2013-2014