Working Papers

Receiving the 2021 Michael R. Curro Award for Best Graduate Research Paper, "“Do State Budget Maneuvers Reduce Future Budget Resiliency? Evidence Following the Great Recession” at the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management Annual Conference, October 1, 2021. 

Stavick, J. “Organizational Memory and Snap Back Performance in Public Agencies.” Available at SSRN.

In recent years, public administration scholars investigated the relationship between employee turnover and public sector performance in settings where tasks are routine and frequently executed. This research builds on that foundation by investigating the contribution of organizational memory to the execution of infrequent and extraordinary tasks, theoretically distinguishing it from routine and ordinary tasks. Using a panel of administrative state employee payroll data collected from 45 states, this research tests the relationship between state health department employee turnover, retention, and performance in response to an emergency: the COVID vaccination campaign of 2021. Results show that recent health department turnover rates are a more substantive predictor than retention of employees with previous SARS H1N1 experience or the employment of managers from that era. Estimates indicate a one percentage point increase in employee turnover rates reduce the two-dose adult vaccine take-up rate by about 0.5 percentage points, a result largely driven by high vaccination rates among senior citizens. The results are robust to alternative specifications and a placebo investigation using transportation department employee turnover rates. I estimate from this data that a 1 percent reduction in turnover would cost about $1.6 billion in additional compensation to state health departments and would produce reduced mortality benefits of $2.1 billion.  

Stavick, J. "Public Employee Furloughs as a Budget Balancing Strategy: Evidence of Effects on Employees and Agencies." Available at SSRN

Many state policy makers pursued furloughs to reduce expenditures and restore balance between revenue and expenditures to comply with balanced budget requirements. Furloughs are often criticized by scholars as a mechanism that inflicts psychological and financial stress on public employees, while others perceive them as a reasonable alternative to layoffs. How sensitive are public employees to furlough-induced pay reductions? This paper implements a novel dataset containing the employee records of all California state employees from 1998-2021 to investigate how state employees responded to its mandatory furlough program implemented in 2009. Although furloughed employees exit public employment more quickly than exempt employees, event studies show weak evidence of an increase in separation rates among furloughed employees relative their exempt colleagues. Two-stage least squares regressions show that the separation elasticity for public employees is about 0.35 for same-year separation, an estimate that implies substantive monopsony power of employer government over public sector workers. However, estimates show that the labor supply response to furloughs grow more elastic in subsequent years, meaning that furloughs may be a sensible short-run tactic to reduce expenditures during a budgetary crisis.