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Ashton Pallottini

Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, University of Chicago

Phone +1 616-581-5482

LinkedIn GitHub • Twitter

Welcome! I am a Ph.D. student in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics at University of Chicago. My research is on Energy and Environmental Economics, with particular focus on human behavior and health outcomes.



Selected Work-in-Progress

Paper or Plastic: How Consumers Evaluate Goods with Multiple Externalities

With Joe Battles

Many eco-friendly consumers in the modern USA have begun to shun plastic goods in favor of their paper substitutes. However, paper products tend to emit much more carbon than do their plastic equivalents. Two potential mechanisms may be driving this shift: (i) consumers are unaware of the relative carbon footprint of paper and plastic products or (ii) eco-friendly consumers have other environmental concerns in mind (such as wastefulness) when making this switch. We propose an experiment which elicits incentivized choices between goods with varying levels of wastefulness and carbon emissions. In doing so, we are able to determine how consumers trade between the two. We further provide an information treatment and observe its impact on consumer decisions, allowing for us to examine whether recent public scrutiny of low-carbon high-waste goods such as plastic bags is due to information frictions or due to concerns which consumers have over non-carbon environmental impacts of goods.

A Garbage Paper: The Impact of Bargaining Power on Landfill Placement

The environmental justice literature has shown that low-income and minority communities are more likely to live near a landfill. This is largely driven by the fact that landfills are built near these communities, rather than any hedonic-style migration. What drives this discrepancy in building locations? On one hand, low-income and minority communities might live in places that are most suitable for landfills. On the other, waste management firms might be pressured into building in these areas by politically influential and high-income "NIMBYs". We design and estimate a spatial model of landfill placement which allows us to examine where landfills would be built in the absence of political pressures. A comparison of this counterfactual to the actual placement of landfills hints at the power of NIMBYs. We further provide the first nation-wide hedonic pricing of landfills and use our estimates of household landfill valuation to suggest socially optimal landfill locations. 

Mortality and Modernity in China: What Explains the Life Expectancy Gap?

Since the early 1970s, China has seen an impressive economic boom into modernity. Despite incredible achievements in economic growth, life expectancy has lagged behind. What causes these disappointing gains in life expectancy? In this paper, we use the most robust collection of Chinese mortality data ever gathered to track modernity's impact on mortality rates across mechanisms such as diet, pollution, healthcare, and inequality.

The Mental Fitness of Voters: How Droughts Influence US Elections

This paper argues that voters have logical reasons to punish incumbents for 'irrelevant' events such as droughts, tornadoes, and floods even without any additional information about candidate quality. Such events may cause the ideal candidate profile of a voter to change. We present a theoretical model of voter choice which allows for optimal voting decisions to vary by drought intensity through three channels: (i) information about incumbent candidate quality, (ii) shifting voter policy preferences, and (iii) desire to punish incumbents for events out of their control. We analyze this model and provide intuitive conditions under which incumbent candidates may be logically punished or rewarded at the polls following an exogenous 'irrelevant' shock. We then isolate mechanism (ii) and empirically test whether preferences over political candidates change in the wake of USA droughts. 



University of Chicago

ECON 20010: Elements of Economic Analysis I Honors (Undergraduate)

Fall 2022: Teaching Assistant reporting to Victor Lima

BUSN 33801: Microeconomics (EMBA)

Fall 2022: Teaching Assistant reporting to Lars Stole

Michigan State University

STT 200: Statistical Methods (Undergraduate)

Summer 2020: Fixed Term Instructor reporting to Camille Fairbourn

Fall 2019 - Spring 2020: Teaching Assistant reporting to Harish Sankaranarayanan



When not poring over my studies in the Saieh Hall grad lounge, you can find me repeatedly lifting heavy things and promptly setting them back down. Scientists hypothesize that one day the process will be automated and I can live my life like a person in Wall-E. Until that date, I bravely venture forth to the squat rack (after a 10-15 minute wait in line, of course).


Many economists have beautiful minds that have taken in the brilliant works of Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and even Karl Marx. Yet, how many of them can claim to have gone toe-to-toe with Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time" series and come out on top? I can. In fact, I was so bold as to do it while undergoing UChicago's infamous first year core sequence. Talk about a slog! When not reading about Rand al'Thor and friends, I also love a good book by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, or Mark Lawrence.


Ever met a tone-deaf person that can speak Chinese? No? Well, you still have not! But I am certainly working on it. Picking up (Mandarin) Chinese is proving to be incredibly challenging, but with great rewards. My goal is to be proficient by the time I go on the job market, and I am making good progress on the "owl app". I am also planning on soon picking up where I left off with Spanish in my high school days. My days of monolingualism are numbered!


My one true passion! I am looking forward to the days when I am an old washed-up has-been economist who can ride off into the sunset by writing sports economics papers. As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I am currently thinking up economic models of optimal QB hand size. In the mean-time, I will continue to vicariously relive Steve Nash's glory days by wearing a headband every time I play pickup basketball. 

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