brendon mcconnell


I am a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the Economics Department at the University of Southampton. I received my PhD from University College London, under the supervision of Imran Rasul and Jérôme Adda.

My main research interest is in applied microeconomics. I am currently working on two main projects. One on ethnic differentials in criminal sentencing, and the other on marriage and labour market outcomes. In the past I've worked on several different projects related to education, an area in which I'm still interested.

recent papers

Spatial Patterns of Hispanic-White Sentencing DifferentialsContagious Animosity in the Field: Evidence from the Federal Criminal Justice System [June 2019], with Imran Rasul

Revised and Resubmitted, Journal of Labor Economics

A vast literature uses ingroup biases to explain animus towards others. The notion can be extended to multi-identity societies, where social preferences are defined over one ingroup and multiple outgroups. We use a novel research design to recover the structure of social preferences across outgroups in a high stakes setting. We investigate whether increased animosity towards Muslims post 9-11 had spillover effects on Black and Hispanic individuals in the federal criminal justice system. Using linked administrative data tracking defendants from arrest through to sentencing, our core finding is that as 9-11 increased animosity towards Muslims, sentence and pre-sentence outcomes for Hispanic defendants significantly worsened. Outcomes for Black defendants were unchanged. We underpin a causal interpretation of our findings by providing evidence in favor of the identifying assumptions underlying the research design. The findings are consistent with judges and prosecutors displaying social preferences characterized by contagious animosity from Muslims to Hispanics. To understand why increased animosity towards Muslims post 9-11 could spillover onto Hispanics, we draw on work in sociology to detail how Islamophobia and immigration have become intertwined in American consciousness since the mid 1990s, but were forcefully framed together in the aftermath of 9-11. We narrow the interpretation of the results as being driven by social preference structures using decomposition analysis, and correlating sentencing differentials to judge characteristics, including their race/ethnicity. Our findings provide among the first field evidence of contagious animosity, that social preferences across outgroups are interlinked and malleable.