The Washington Center for Equitable Growth is excited to announce its 2017 class of grantees. Equitable Growth’s fourth slate of grant awards represents a growing and robust body of research and community of scholars who are bringing data-driven research to bear on some of the most entrenched economic challenges of our time.

Equitable Growth will award 20 grants in its 2017 round of grantmaking. Awards in this year’s grant cycle total $771,930, with an additional $52,000 in co-funding from the Russell Sage Foundation. Combined with the total funding from the three previous grant cycles, Equitable Growth has awarded nearly $2.9 million in grant awards.

“Equitable Growth is pleased to support scholars within the fields of economics, political science, and sociology who are helping accelerate our understanding of the profound changes at work in the U.S. economy,” says Equitable Growth’s Executive Director and Chief Economist Heather Boushey. “Each piece of research helps tell a story about what makes the economy grow and can ultimately help drive better-designed policy responses to address the economic challenges facing families, communities, and the broader U.S. economy.”

On an annual basis, Equitable Growth awards grants within the four funding streams identified in our Request for Proposals: macroeconomics; human capital and the labor market; innovation; and institutions. Each category represents a primary channel through which to explore the relationship between economic inequality and economic growth and stability. We remain interested in supporting projects and researchers using administrative data and other new or innovative data sources.

Academic grants are open to researchers affiliated with a U.S. university, and doctoral grants are open to graduate students currently enrolled in a U.S. doctoral program. You can find the full text of the Request for Proposals on the Equitable Growth website.

Expanded descriptions of the 2017 grants and a profile of each grantee can be found here.

“Each of Equitable Growth’s grantees plays an important role in advancing the research literature in their respective fields,” says Equitable Growth’s Senior Director for Research and Senior Fellow Elisabeth Jacobs. “From evaluating how the concentration of corporate ownership is impacting inequality to understanding the role that firms play in long-term earnings losses, each funded project will help grow our understanding of the channels through which economic inequality may affect growth and stability. We are honored to support each grantee’s ongoing research and scholarly endeavors.”

Below are brief descriptions of each funded project.


One academic grant and two doctoral grants will support research on how economic inequality affects macroeconomic growth and stability:

  • Luigi Pistaferri (Stanford University) will utilize administrative records from Norway to address both our theoretical understanding of how wealth is accumulated and our empirical understanding of the distribution of wealth across individuals and households.
  • Guillermo Gallacher (Ph.D. student, University of Washington) will study the interaction of structural change and international trade in the determination of sectoral employment, specifically with regard to manufacturing jobs.
  • Christina Patterson (Ph.D. student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will assess how changes in monetary policy affect the demand for different kinds of workers and the redistribution of labor income.

Human capital and the labor market

Five academic grants and two doctoral grants will support research on how economic inequality affects the development of human capital and the smooth functioning of the labor market:

  • Justine Hastings (Brown University) and Eric Chyn (University of Virginia) will use administrative data from the state of Rhode Island to explore the effects of paid maternity leave on health outcomes for mothers and children, as well as the policy’s effects on labor market outcomes for mothers.
  • Alexander Hertel-Fernandez (Columbia University) will field a large-scale survey to examine what aspects of labor organization are preferred by workers and management in order to inform new forms of worker representation.
  • Michael Reich, Sylvia Allegretto, and Anna Godoy (University of California, Berkeley) will take advantage of the unusually large changes in the statutory minimum wages in eight states and nine cities to analyze wage and employment impacts.
  • Kristin Smith (University of New Hampshire) and Nancy Folbre (University of Massachusetts Amherst) will compare employment and wages, by gender, in the care and financial sectors to analyze the impact that industries and firms have on wage inequality.
  • Stephen Woodbury (Michigan State University) and Marta Lachowska (W.E. Upjohn Institute) will take advantage of administrative data from Washington state’s unemployment insurance program to better understand the sources of displaced workers’ long-term earnings losses and to what extent firm characteristics are responsible for such losses.
  • Heather Sarsons (Ph.D. student, Harvard University) will add to our understanding of how gender differences may affect whether an employee’s successes and failures are attributed to luck or ability, and if that has implications for career trajectory.
  • Linh Tô (Ph.D. student, Harvard University) will seek to understand the welfare consequences from long-term skill mismatches due to childbirth and how maternity leave policies can help alleviate such mismatches.


One doctoral grant will support research on how economic inequality affects the quantity and quality of innovation, and whether technological innovations, in turn, impact inequality:

  • Abdul Raheem Shariq Mohammed (Ph.D. student, University of Arizona) will test a widely held perception that making ethnic information less prominent rather than completely eliminating it—will reduce discrimination.


Five academic grants and four doctoral grants will support research on how levels and trends in economic inequality impact the quality of social, economic, and political institutions contributing to economic well-being and growth, including changes in market structure:

  • William A. Darity Jr. (Duke University) and Darrick Hamilton (The New School) will field a survey to find the net-worth position, labor market status, health status, and extent of exposure to the criminal justice system of racial and ethnic groups in the Boston metropolitan area.
  • Trevon Logan (The Ohio State University), Rodney Andrews (The University of Texas at Dallas), Marcus Casey (University of Illinois at Chicago), and Bradley Hardy (American University) will investigate the degree to which large and persistent gaps in socio-economic and human capital outcomes vary with measures of historical localized segregation.
  • Magne Mogstad and Bradley Setzler (University of Chicago) will investigate how firm and market shocks are passed onto employees and the effectiveness of U.S. social insurance programs in buffering households against shocks to their incomes.
  • Suresh Naidu (Columbia University), W. Bentley MacLeod (Columbia University), and Elliott Ash (University of Warwick) will analyze the language of labor union contracts to provide some of the first causal evidence that contractual language meaningfully shapes the decisions of contracting parties in the labor market.
  • Abigail Wozniak (University of Notre Dame) and Kevin Rinz (U.S. Census) will explore the migratory response to import shocks from China, what the longer-term earnings impacts are of these shocks, and whether these differ across places with more or fewer barriers to migration.
  • Brian Callaci (Ph.D. student, University of Massachusetts Amherst) will assess whether vertical disintegration strategies, particularly franchising, are merely efficiency enhancing or if they are also strategies to manipulate the legal boundaries of the firm to gain greater revenues and shift risk.
  • Alex Xi He (Ph.D. student, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will look at how the concentration of corporate ownership and mergers and acquisitions affect inequality and workers’ well-being by evaluating the relationship between growing market concentration and the declining labor share of income.
  • Barbara Kiviat (Ph.D. student, Harvard University) will study car insurers’ use of big data and predictive analytics to understand how regulators, members of industry, and other key actors together establish the market rules by which personal data determine economic opportunity.
  • Nathan Wilmers (Ph.D. student, Harvard University) will link administrative data sets to explore how the interaction between increasingly concentrated product markets and rising managerial power affects earnings inequality.